Foxes prepared for quarter-final clash

Leicestershire Foxes are looking to be happy travellers once again as they head to Glamorgan for the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final tomorrow night (6.30pm start).

The Foxes won six out of seven away matches in the group stages, including Friday’s dramatic finale at Notts Outlaws where Mathew Pillans held his nerve under the most intense pressure to see the team home.

Pillans has had his loan extended to be available for the huge game in Cardiff and that will give the Foxes a big boost as they travel to Wales.

As well as having a terrific away record, the Foxes have also gone extremely well in previous T20 quarter-finals. There was no last eight game in 2003 - the inaugural year of the competition - and the Foxes have won all four occasions since in home matches against Kent (twice), Essex and Middlesex.

It is a proud record but will be put to the test at Glamorgan, who qualified for the knockout stages by finishing top of the South Division.

The Foxes have just won at the team who finished first in the North Division and Head Coach Pierre de Bruyn was proud of his side’s performance at Trent Bridge. He said that the Foxes are ready for their next challenge at the SSE SWALEC.

“Friday night was a game that had everything and Mathew executed his skills so well,” said de Bruyn. “All of the players have worked tremendously hard for this exciting opportunity and are fully focused on going to Glamorgan and putting in another good performance.

“We are well aware of their strengths and weaknesses and are fully prepared for what is in store for us in Cardiff. They have good players and have earned the right to play a home quarter-final with some strong performances in the group stages.

“We feel that we have played some good cricket too and are sitting with some valuable momentum in the way that we qualified. Winning the last four games, and performing under pressure against Notts, will stand us in good stead. 

“Our away form has been excellent but we are well aware that will count for nothing going into the game. We’ll need to be at our best in all departments.”

A quarter-final can have a different feel to the group stages but with the Foxes knowing they needed to win their last four games to get through, they have effectively been playing knockout cricket over the last few days.

Captain Clint McKay is well-versed in playing big games all around the world and feels that the Foxes have the crucial ingredients going into the game – belief and impetus.

“We took a lot of confidence out of winning the first four games and knew that we could do it again,” said McKay.

“Everyone is looking forward to the opportunity that has presented itself. Once you are on a bit of a roll, you can keep the momentum going, and winning four games in a row gives us that momentum.

“We knew what we needed to do at Notts game and the win meant a lot to us. But we know that there is a long way to go and we have three more games to win. We want to win the tournament.

“The boys have been outstanding over the last four games, we had a couple of days off to freshen up and then had a good training session yesterday. Everyone is ready to go.”

On the challenge of facing Glamorgan in their own backyard, McKay said: “We are travelling and training in Cardiff today and that will give us a feel of their ground again as we haven’t played there this season.

“It’s been a tight tournament and everyone has been capable of beating each other in both the North and South groups. Everyone has lost certain games and everyone has played some good cricket.

“You don’t finish top of the South group without being a good side, so we know that Glamorgan will present a tough challenge - but we’re focusing on our own performance. 

“We believe that if we play our best cricket, then we can beat anyone, so it’s all set for another good occasion in front of another big crowd.”

Leicestershire have named an unchanged 14-man squad for the game at Glamorgan, so Lewis Hill, Rob Sayer and Dieter Klein will travel with the XI that started at Notts Outlaws.

Glamorgan have also made few changes after a successful group campaign in which Colin Ingram has again been their star with both bat and ball.

The home side are boosted by the availability of overseas batsman David Miller, who is flying in on the day of the game after finishing his A-team match in South Africa. Captain Jacques Rudolph, another left-hander like Ingram and Miller, has also been in good form with the bat.

Foxes (from): McKay (capt), Aadil, Ackermann, Cosgrove, Delport, Eckersley, Griffiths, Hill, Klein, Parkinson, Pillans, Ronchi, Sayer, Wells.

Glamorgan (from): Rudolph (capt), Carey, Carlson, Cooke, de Lange, Donald, Hogan, Ingram, Meschede, Miller, Morgan, Salter, Selman, Wagg.