Delport comes in for Lightning test

The in-form Niall O'Brien is missing for Leicestershire
The in-form Niall O'Brien is missing for Leicestershire

Leicestershire Foxes have added hard-hitting South African all-rounder Cameron Delport to their squad as they prepare to take on Lancashire Lightning at Old Trafford tomorrow.

Delport, who has an ancestral visa and so does not count as an overseas player, played alongside Leicester director of elite performance Andrew McDonald at Sydney Thunder last season.

The 27-year-old also plays for KwaZulu-Natal, Lahore Qalanders, and Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel, and has 2,045 T20 runs to his name at an average of 25, with a strike rate of 135. He has taken 23 wickets at 27.56, with an economy rate of 7.65.

“Cameron has experience in most of the world’s top T20 competitions, and his knowledge and skill will be valuable assets,” said McDonald. “He gives us another useful option in our batting roster, and he’s a good person who will contribute greatly to the changing room.”

Beating Lancashire, last year’s champions, would be a huge boost for the Foxes, who will go into the game sitting fourth in the North Division. Leicestershire have not beaten Lancashire in the last nine fixtures between the sides in the competition, but they could not have come closer in this fixture last year, which went down to the very last ball.

Delport, who played for Leicestershire’s second team at Loughborough on Thursday, may make an immediate debut, as the Foxes will be without the in-form Niall O’Brien, who had to be stretchered from the field after injuring his calf batting against Warwickshire in the RL50 on Tuesday.

However O’Brien’s younger brother and fellow Ireland international Kevin is in excellent form with the bat, and it is no co-incidence that overseas star Umar Akmal has been not out in the victories against Yorkshire and Durham.

With the ball, no bowler in the competition has bowled more dot balls than Ben Raine (45), though Clint McKay (41) is not far behind the young all-rounder.

The Foxes hammered the Jets in the Nat West Blast T20 in front of a delighted home crowd last Friday, only to lose a high-scoring Royal London Cup 50 over match to the same opposition two days later, before being well beaten by Warwickshire in the RLC at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

McDonald said the two one-day formats demanded a very different approach.

“At the moment it’s all about flipping between the two white ball formats and making sure we’re ready,” said the Australian.

“T20 is a real roller-coaster and you have to be tactically on the button all the time, make sure you get your match-ups spot-on with every ball.

“When it comes to RL50, the new fielding restrictions, which mean you’re only allowed four men out of the circle at any one time, do make it more difficult for the bowlers to defend, whereas in T20 you have usually got five men out.

“That means the batters are cashing in over 50 overs, you can see that from the scores, and I guess that was the intention of the rule change. It makes it particularly difficult for spinners, who used to rule the roost in one-day cricket, and the challenge is to come up with some tactics to combat it in this format, and be creative, like we have been in T20.

“In a sense it’s back to the drawing board for us with those two losses in RL50, but with two wins already to our name in T20, beating Lancashire would put us in a strong position in the group going forward.”

Possible Leicestershire squad: Pettini (c), Cosgrove, K O’Brien, Akmal, Delport, Dexter, Wells, Raine, Hill, McKay, Taylor, Sykes, Naik.