THE search for a new Gloucestershire captain is no nearer to being resolved, according to director of cricket John Bracewell.
The early front-runner to replace Alex Gidman was Australian batsman Ed Cowan, who had two brief stints with the County last summer and impressed with his technique and temperament.
But the left-hander this week scored his maiden Test century for Australia against South Africa and is desperate to nail down a 2013 Ashes place, reducing the likelihood of a Nevil Road return.
New Zealand's Kane Williamson – the man Cowan replaced in Bristol – has been mooted as a possible leader, but he will only be available for the second half of next season after touring with the Black Caps.
Bracewell has revealed he was also keen on Cowan's fellow countryman George Bailey, yet international commitments again proved to be a stumbling block.
"Plan A went a little awry this week with Ed Cowan getting 138 in the Test, because he showed a lot of leadership skills," said Bracewell.
"I sent him a congratulatory but disappointed text message, along the lines of 'Nice for your Plan A, not so much for ours!'
"Another one we looked at was George Bailey, who was pretty keen on coming over, but the one-day series, Twenty20 series and Champions Trophy takes another eight weeks out of the season.
"Our best chance is to trawl for somebody with a European or British passport because work permits are the biggest hassle, in that players have to have played a certain amount of international cricket to get one."
Bracewell has virtually ruled out promoting a player from within his young squad, fearing the pressures of the job would affect their game.
Recruiting from another county is also unlikely, with most clubs tying their influential players down to long-term contracts.
Bracewell said: "I don't think there are any options internally that wouldn't be to the detriment of that person's particular ability.
"Take somebody like Dan Housego. He had a really good season last year after his shoulder injury, but he actually needs to establish himself as a first-class cricketer.
"There is a lot of pressure that goes with captaincy and I think it genuinely burnt Alex (Gidman) out.
"Something could crop up from another county but at this late stage I would doubt it."
Bracewell and his players were at the County Ground yesterday to meet developers from Linden Homes, who have started work on new 147 apartments that form part of the multi-million pound redevelopment project.
The Jessop Stand has been demolished and improving overall ground facilities is essential if Gloucestershire are to continue to stage One-Day Internationals, which generate around £300,000 for the club coffers.
Bracewell said: "It's been a six-year wait and a lot of those years have been quite frustrating.
"There's been a hell of a lot of hard work from the board to get the plans across the line, and while we're almost at ground-zero at the moment the building of our future really relies on this whole project.
"We can stay in the lower classes or start to move forward, and that takes financial resources to invest in cricket. This is the start of it."