Alex Gidman has certainly made massive strides since breaking into the Gloucestershire first XI in 2003.
Blessed with the ability to bat and bowl at a high standard, he was chosen for Rod Marsh’s England Academy intake for 2003/04.
And the former Australian wicketkeeper was so impressed with the all-rounder that he handed Gidman the captaincy for the England A tour to Malaysia and India, a squad that included fully-capped England players such as Ed Smith and Simon Jones.
However, Gidman broke his right thumb in the nets and only managed to play one warm-up one-day match before being sent home, which denied him the chance to shine on the international stage.
He was an important member of the all-conquering Gloucestershire side that claimed the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy in 2003, when he hit the winning runs, and he struck a fine 61 to carry his side tantalisingly close to victory over Surrey in the Twenty20 Cup semi-final that same year.
He continued his fine form and was selected for a provisional England squad ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy, although he missed out on the final 14-man party.
Gidman was selected to spend the winter of 2004/05 at the Academy once again and pledged his future to Gloucestershire by signing a new contract to keep him at the club until the end of the 2007 season.
He was then selected in the 14-man England A squad to tour the UAE and Sri Lanka in 2005.
He enjoyed a consistent tour of United Arab Emirates as England A secured a 4-0 one-day international series white-wash.
Gidman averaged 18 with the bat in UAE and then starred with the ball against Sri Lanka A, claiming impressive figures of 3-8 as England A recorded a comfortable 197-run win in the first Test.
In 2005 Gloucestershire suffered relegation from both Frizzell County Championship Division One and totesport League Division One, but Gidman still managed to rack up over 1,000 first-class runs (1012) at an average of 37.48.
Gloucestershire’s vice captain was named the county’s player of the season in 2006 for his all-round contribution including helping them to the Pro40 Division Two title.
Gidman was called up to join England A’s tour of Bangladesh in February 2007 as a replacement for Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara, who was selected in England’s World Cup squad.
He ended speculation about his future by signing a three-year contract with Gloucestershire in late July 2008.