Hunt for the title will need steadier form, says Cosgrove

Mark Cosgrove

Mark Cosgrove

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Consistency is the key if Leicestershire are to challenge for promotion from Division Two this season, according to captain Mark Cosgrove.

"We put ourselves in a good position to be fighting for the championship in 2016, but then there were a couple of games in mid-season which we could have pushed on and won but didn't, and that had a huge effect," argues the 32-year-old.

"You can talk about bad luck and decisions going against you all you want, but the truth is a bad hour here or there can take a game away from you, and that's what we can't afford anymore.

"If we can be that bit more consistent we'll be involved at the back end of the season, and that's very much our aim, to be right in the hunt for the Division Two title with a game or two to play."

Lack of consistency is not a criticism that can be levelled at Cosgrove. In his two years at the Fischer County Ground, the Australian left-hander has scored 2,464 first class runs, at an average of 45.62, and has nine centuries to his name.

This year, however, he is anticipating a serious challenge to his position at the head of the Foxes' averages - and no-one could be more pleased at the prospect.

"The batting looks to have real depth. The likes of Paul Horton and Neil Dexter are proven run-getters, they're used to the conditions and batting here now, Colin Ackermann arrives with a first-class average of 40, players like Ned Eckersley and Angus Robson are pretty experienced now, and there's a group of super-talented youngsters like Aadil Ali, Lewis Hill and Harry Dearden who are really putting their hands up, not to mention genuine all-rounders like Zak Chappell, Tom Wells and Ben Raine.

"But it's true of the squad as a whole. This is my third season as captain, and I do feel it's the strongest and most balanced group we've assembled. Most seasons a captain will wish he had another option, another quick, a different style spinner, a batter, whatever, but that's not the case now. It also means if we pick up an injury here or there we have real cover."

Cosgrove also intends the Foxes approach every game on the front foot.

"We have to be hard-nosed and tough on the field, because there are some good teams in Division Two this season and we have to stand up. Being nice guys is fine, but nice guys always seem to finish fifth or sixth, and that doesn't help anyone."