Coach Pierre de Bruyn is determined to improve Leicestershire’s sorry recent record in 50 over cricket, starting in their opening fixture against Lancashire in Manchester on Friday (2pm start).
The Foxes won just two of their eight group matches in the Royal London Cup last season, after failing to win at all in the previous season.
One of those wins, however, was a 131-run thrashing of Lancashire at the Fischer County Ground, and De Bruyn believes that memory can be a factor under the floodlights at the Emirates Old Trafford.
“50 overs is a format in which we’ve not performed at anything like the level we’re capable of over the last few years, and we need to be a lot more competitive,” acknowledged the South African.
“Lancashire are a good side, but we beat them at home last season, and besides, every side is tough. But if you look at the options we have in the squad now, the permutations we have available, we can definitely compete with the best.”
The Foxes will have a new one-day captain this season, with Australian seamer Clint McKay taking over from last year’s skipper Mark Pettini, though McKay’s availability is in question after he picked up a back injury in the championship draw against Glamorgan on Monday.
“If Clint is fit he brings a lot to the table as captain, he thinks about the game, he’s very proactive about situations in a match, and fingers crossed he’ll be ready,” said De Bruyn.
All-rounder Ben Raine, who has made an outstanding start to the season, is also a major doubt (side).
In McKay’s absence, Ned Eckersley, who stood in for the suspended red-ball captain Mark Cosgrove against Glamorgan, will again lead the side.
Big-hitting South African batsman and white ball specialist Cameron Delport will be hoping to have a bigger impact than he managed after being drafted in to make his first class debut last week.
“Cameron is the sort of batsman who is capable of taking the game away from the opposition, and the combination of him and Mark Pettini up at the top could work very well,” said De Bruyn.
“We’ve also got some increased spin options this season, which is important because I believe spin will play a role. Off-spinner Rob Sayer and the left-armers Callum Parkinson and Jamie Sykes will all come into the discussions.”
Lancashire will be without injured captain Steven Croft (thumb) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (thigh), with Croft missing his first competitive one-day match for the Red Rose since the final of 2006 C&G Trophy.
England bowler Jimmy Anderson is available, however.