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Mark Alleyne: Head coach says Gloucestershire 'good enough' to win promotion

New Gloucestershire head coach Mark Alleyne believes it is a "realistic goal" to win promotion in the County Championship this season.

Alleyne, 55, is Gloucestershire's most decorated player and previously coached there from 2005 to 2007, before returning last month.

Gloucestershire finished bottom of Division Two last season after being relegated in 2021.

The club begin their 2024 campaign away to Derbyshire on 5 April.

"We're good enough as we are to be in the top two of eight in the Championship, that's a realistic goal to achieve in 2024," Alleyne told BBC Points West.

"I think quite naturally you'll see from the results - particularly the last two years - they're well below the standard that you would expect here. First and foremost we want to turn that around.

"But the players here are exciting, they're good, it's a nice blend. I think the mature, more experienced players aren't that old and we've got a good crop of young guys who have come in and made an impact.

"I think the group is ready to achieve and that will be the exciting part of the season."

After being relegated from Division One in 2022, Gloucestershire did not win a single County Championship match last season.

Yet Alleyne's return harks the club back to one of the most successful periods in their history.

The former all-rounder - who won 10 one-day caps for England - played in nearly 800 matches for the county and won nine trophies and a County Championship promotion during his 19-year playing career at the Shire.

"I'm really keen on raising expectations, even if we don't meet them we won't be far off, but performances should improve," Alleyne said.

"There's always be a reference point [to the past] but I've always looked forward."

'Never spiritually left'

While the County Championship is the first priority, managing performances when the T20 Blast begins later this summer will be more of a challenge, according to Alleyne.

Gloucestershire last reached the knockout stages in 2020.

"That is going to be a much tougher task admittedly, the group [southern] we are in is strong," Alleyne said.

"Look at last year and the four semi-finalists were all from this group - that is going to be a tough ask but one that we are looking forward to."

Alleyne was Glamorgan's white-ball coach last season and also coached the England Twenty20 side on their 2022 tour of the West Indies.

He said he did not feel he had ever "spiritually" left Gloucestershire and that the opportunity to return was a "really good fit" at this point in his career, with his children finishing full-time education last year.

"[For] my first go at this I was an experienced player, captain, but very young coach," he said. "Now I feel as though I've still got those attributes but I'm a more matured coach now with experience under my belt, so [in] a much, much better place to take this role on."