I felt I ought to write to you given the disappointing season the Club is having in the LV=County Championship.
Prior to the 2012 season, after discussion with the Cricket Group, the Board decided to try to rebuild the playing squad with a blend of youth and experience. We have twenty cricketers under contract, ten who have come through the Club’s age-group pathway and Academy plus ten cricketers of which three are very experienced – captain Ronnie Sarwan, Matthew Hoggard and Claude Henderson.
Surprisingly Sarwan was recalled to the West Indies squad for their winter tour of Australia and then selected for the Champions Trophy in June. He was then selected for Guyana in the Caribbean Premier League t20 competition. To make matters worse Ronnie injured his wrist in the CPL final and will not be returning to Grace Road this season.
The Club brought in Aussie batsman Joe Burns, the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year who won the Man of the Match award in the t20 Big Bash Final and scored a hundred against England Lions last winter. Unfortunately he was unable to replicate that form in England and returned home with an injury three weeks early.
Matthew Hoggard was injured in the third game of the season and has not been available for a number of games. Jigar Naik, our number one spinner had taken twenty five wickets when he badly injured his shoulder fielding from his own bowling. A successful operation should see Jigar return fully fit next season. Jigar’s injury has given promising spinner James Sykes a chance in the first team.
Injury to Anthony Ireland, Robbie Williams and Nathan Buck has meant that the inexperienced pair of Ollie Freckingham and Alex Wyatt has had to open the bowling on a number of occasions and they have done an excellent job. Freckingham has taken thirty five wickets and Wyatt twenty four wickets.
Unfortunately during a summer of glorious weather the batting has been inconsistent except for Ned Eckersley who has been excellent. He has scored over 1,200 runs including two hundreds in the same match, a feat last achieved by Brad Hodge in 2004. Matthew Boyce and Shiv Thakor have both scored championship hundreds but there has to be more consistency with the team’s batting.
We must build a team around our young cricketers who have gained valuable experience in difficult circumstances this season. When we played Glamorgan recently at Swansea, ten Leicestershire players were aged twenty five and under, whilst ten Glamorgan players were aged twenty five and over. We need to add experience to the team.
Some of our one day cricket has been outstanding with Josh Cobb scoring consecutive centuries in the first three YB40 games with Niall O’Brien, Greg Smith and Ned Eckersley also scoring hundreds in the competition. Rob Taylor, Jigar Naik and Shiv Thakor have also put in some good performances with bat and ball in YB40.
In FLt20 a tie at home to Lancashire and a loss by four runs at Old Trafford cost the team qualification for the Quarter Finals. All the players contributed in this competition and the team’s performances in one day cricket have been a big improvement this season. The experience our young cricketers have gained will stand them in good stead for next season.
The Board realises that the squad needs some new players for next season and various options are being examined by the coaching staff. This was never going to be an easy season and it will take a little time to bring on the younger players but I do think we can look forward with some optimism.
The Club’s coaching structure is being changed with Phil Whitticase becoming Director of Cricket with senior coaches Ben Smith & Lloyd Tennant being responsible for the both first and second teams.
The ECB have approved the Club’s Business Plan and we will be granted £1m to build fourteen apartments along Milligan Road. In partnership with Leicester Riders Basketball and Leicester College the Club is hoping to build a multi purpose community sports arena at Grace Road which will require the backing of Sport England and Leicester City Council. Both projects will bring sustainable income to the Club in order to provide the necessary funds to maintain a strong playing squad.
Off the field a tremendous amount of work has been done in all areas during the last two years:
Jim Overend will be joining the Club as Commercial Manager at the beginning of October. Jim joins from Loughborough University where he was Head of Alumni Relations and was responsible for engaging with the organisation’s 140,000 plus alumni. Prior to that Jim worked at Leicester Tigers for ten years across community and commercial roles and managed the testimonial years of players including Martin Johnson, Austin Healey and Lewis Moody.
In order to strengthen the Club’s decision making process the Board has appointed four very experienced advisers
The Board is determined to put the Club on a sound financial base in order to be able to invest in a stronger playing squad which we hope will bring success to the Club both on and off the field. We look forward to a successful three day game against India next season.