Busy weekend for buoyant Foxes

Ben Raine is in good form for Leicestershire
Ben Raine is in good form for Leicestershire

Leicestershire Foxes go into three consecutive days of one-day cricket, starting with tomorrow’s NatWest T20 Blast match against local rivals Derbyshire Falcons, full of confidence after their comprehensive T20 victory over the Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley last week.

The Foxes beat the Vikings by 54 runs to lift themselves to third in the North Group, with all-rounder Ben Raine producing T20 career bests of 48 with the bat and a remarkable 3-7 from 3.4 overs with the ball.

“It was a really great performance up at Headingley, a complete performance with bat, ball and in the field, and it will be nice to take that into three tough back-to-back games over the weekend,” said one-day captain Mark Pettini.

“It’s not ideal, switching from championship cricket to T20 and then 50 over cricket in a matter of days, but the guys are used to it, they’ve been doing it for a few years, and we have a day to prepare. If you’re playing well, you can transfer that across.”

Pettini, who joined Leicestershire from Essex on a three-year deal in the close season, says he is thoroughly enjoying leading the Foxes in white ball cricket.

“I’m loving it, to be honest, it’s a great group which is desperate to do well, and they play their hearts out every time they take the field, which makes it a real pleasure to be in charge.

“It’s also quite nice for both me and “Coz” [four day captain Mark Cosgrove] in that one gets a bit of a break when the other takes over, but we also do a fair bit of work together on how we want the guys to go about their cricket generally, and what sort of culture we want to create here.”

Friday’s floodlit T20 game at the 3aaa County Ground [7pm start] is followed by a double header against the Durham Jets at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road. Saturday sees the Foxes take on the Jets in the NatWest T20 [5.30pm start], and Sunday sees the sides meet in the first of this season’s Royal London Cup 50 over games [11am start].

The weather forecast is improving for the weekend, which will come as a relief to Leicestershire after a frustrating trip to Canterbury in the championship. Two and a half days of the match were lost to the unseasonable weather, bringing the total number of overs lost by the county in four day cricket this season to 633.

Even so, the Foxes made the most of what play was possible to put the previous week’s defeat by Worcestershire firmly behind them. Cosgrove and Pettini’s partnership of 218 was a fourth wicket record for Leicestershire against Kent, beating the 162 compiled by Albert Lord and John King in 1923.

Director elite performance Andrew McDonald was pleased with his side’s resilience.

“It was a good bounce back after what happened against Worcestershire, and the quality of the cricket we played against Kent, and the style, suggests we’re back on track in terms of what we want to do.

“Now we switch to one-day cricket, and while we probably weren’t the sharpest we could have been in a close match against the Steelbacks, the way we played at Headingley was more what we’re about, it was exciting.

“It also showed we’re not only about our overseas players. Ben Raine, Niall O’Brien and Lewis Hill all batted very well, and Ben and Neil Dexter bowled excellently, supported by outstanding work by everybody in the field.”

The Foxes’ squad to take on Derbyshire, to be confirmed after training today, is unlikely to show any changes to that which travelled to Headingley.