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Leicestershire Foxes all-rounder Ben Raine said the team can go into tonight’s NatWest T20 Blast clash at Lancashire Lightning (6.30pm start) with confidence.
The Foxes have only won of their opening four games in the competition but two of those setbacks have come in the last over. In each of the four matches to date, one opposition batsman has made a score that has proved decisive.
With Nottinghamshire Outlaws in town next Thursday and a trip to Durham Jets the following evening, this is a crucial few days for the Foxes against three teams they have had great battles with since the induction of T20 cricket.
Statistics and the manner of defeat thus far suggest the Foxes are not far away from having success - and that is exactly the feeling that Raine has at the minute.
Raine said the Foxes must accept that defeat is part of the NatWest T20 Blast process, and the all-rounder thinks the fact that the team is yet to fire on all cylinders in a tournament now played over months rather than weeks could actually be in their favour.
He said: “There is a real confidence about the Club, even though T20 results haven’t really gone our way in the last few weeks.
“I know it’s a thing that’s thrown about often but I think victories are not far away. If we can go to Lancashire and get a good win, we’ll have confidence and momentum. We want to get to the quarter-finals – that’s our only aim in this competition.
“It’s fine margins in games and people could easily look at our record and say we haven’t played well, but that’s not been the case. There was a lot of stuff that we did well against Worcestershire and it was just brilliance from them that took the game away from us.
“T20 is so short that you never know what’s going to happen. There have been certain innings like David Willey and Daryl Mitchell that have taken the game away from us.
“Sometimes there’s not much you can do about it. Our time will come, and if we finish the group stages well, then we’d take momentum into the quarter-finals.
“We have to be able to get over a defeat. I’ve been taught to stay level throughout, so if you win a game, you accept that you’ve won but move on because the same thing might not happen in the next one.
“The same applies to a loss. You always go into a game trying to win, so it wasn’t down to a lack of effort. We just have to take it on the chin, move on, and come back strongly.
“All we can do is keep training hard; we are putting the hard yards in in training and we are preparing well. We’ll be striving for a good performance at Lancashire.”
Raine forced his way back into the Foxes side after two good performances in the Second XI on a Finals Day schedule at Arundel Castle. The first of those was in a semi-final win against Lancashire.
The 22-year-old then took 2-28 against Worcestershire Rapids and then made a half-century and took a three-for in the LV=CC match against Derbyshire.
Raine made his highest first-class score at Emirates Old Trafford last season in a game where he also bowled well, so he already has some fond memories of playing against the Red Rose county as well as being in good form at present. The ground looks splendid after lots of redevelopments in recent times and Raine said it is an inspiring venue to play at.
He said: “Old Trafford is a beautiful ground and the renovation they have done to it is great. It’s one of the best grounds I’ve ever played at and I’m looking forward to the game. There will be a good Northern crowd and you always get a bit of stick as a bowler or fielder, but you come to expect that.
“We have got to go and enjoy the competition. Lancashire are a hard-fought team and they have been in good form. I know that we’re good enough to beat them on our day, but equally they’re good enough to beat us if it’s their day.
“Our Second team played brilliantly on Finals Day and I thought we were deserved winners on the day. There was myself, Dan Redfern, James Sykes and Matthew Boyce then included in the squad for the Worcestershire game based on our performances in it.
“It was nice to see that a couple of us got our chance and we went into that match feeling good about our cricket. That will be the same when we go to Old Trafford.”
Scott Styris has returned home to New Zealand because of a family bereavement, and our thoughts are with him at this difficult time.
Seam trio Nathan Buck, Alex Wyatt and Ollie Freckingham are injured, so Charlie Shreck comes into a 13-man squad in the NatWest T20 Blast for the first time this summer.
England legend Andrew Flintoff played in the recent Second XI semi-final but will not make a ‘second debut’ for the club tonight.
Australian batsman Usman Khawaja could make his Lightning debut and there is further international experience in South Africa batsman Ashwell Prince, England trio Jos Buttler, Kabir Ali and Stephen Parry, and Pakistan seamer Junaid Khan.
There are Leicestershire connections in the 14-man Lancashire squad in all-rounders Tom Smith and Wayne White.
Foxes (from): Cobb, O’Brien, Smith, Eckersley, Boyce, Thornely, Wells, Taylor, Raine, Naik, Sykes, Ireland, Shreck.
Lightning (from): Horton, Buttler, Brown, Clark, Croft, Davies, Khan, Kabir, Khawaja, Lilley, Parry, Prince, Smith, White.