10th August 2017
McKay: "We can finish how we started"
Leicestershire Foxes started the campaign with four consecutive victories – so there is no reason why they can’t win the last four matches in the group stages, beginning with tomorrow night’s game at Northants Steelbacks.
That is the view of captain Clint McKay, who has seen enough in the competition to know that his side are strong enough to make it to the last eight.
County have had three very near misses in recent fixtures at the Fischer County Ground. Defeats by the margins of two and four runs happened against tomorrow’s opponents and Lancashire Lightning respectively, and another occurred off the penultimate ball of a seven-over game versus Durham Jets.
Rain also arrived to deny the Foxes the opportunity to chase 68 off five overs against Notts Outlaws. Given there would have been two powerplay overs - and also taking into consideration that Luke Ronchi and Cameron Delport took 36 off the first two overs against the Jets - that match had all the makings of another close contest.
There is a quick turnaround from the game at Wantage Road (6.30pm start) as Yorkshire Vikings visit the Fischer County Ground on Saturday afternoon (2.30pm start).
Given the final two matches are also back-to-back, against Derbyshire Falcons (FCG, 6.30pm start Thursday) and Notts Outlaws (Trent Bridge, 7pm start Friday), the Foxes are aware that will need to be at their best.
McKay said: “We’re still well in this competition and we’re looking forward to having a last crack. We are looking to finish the way we started.
“It’s a case of us producing our best form, especially given we have two double-headers to end the competition.
“Everyone is beating everyone, there will be some twists and turns, and we know that destiny is in our own hands. If we win our last four games then we will make the quarter-finals, which is how you want it going into the last four games.
“We need to turn around our form as we haven’t won for a couple of weeks, but it was good to have a break and go into a four-day game. It has given us chance to have a think about our plans, and to look at the execution of those plans.
“It was tough to lose another close game last week but it is the nature of T20 cricket. We had two games against Lancashire where we had a similar chase and they both went to the last ball - and it was one-one in the end."
The Foxes have been involved in some extremely entertaining games this campaign and that is set to continue as the group stages end with four games against teams that all have a chance of progressing to the knockout stages.
“It was naturally disappointing to lose against Lancashire but the great thing about T20 cricket is that it’s such an entertaining format,” said McKay, who is the competition's joint leading wicket-taker .
“Yes, there is a serious side to T20 as we want to win every game, but there were two wonderful games of cricket for the crowd against Lancashire that went to the very last ball each time. I’m sure the entertainment will continue.
“We gave away too many extras and had a couple of misfields against Lancashire, so found a 15 to 20 run improvement without looking too hard. But credit to the boys for staying in the game right until the end, especially the way Mark Cosgrove batted.
“For Mark to bat like that, with all of the pain and distress he had, was a credit to the quality player that he is. Mark kept us in the game and was unbelievable for us. We’ll need performances like that over the weekend.”
McKay's sentiments were echoed by Head Coach Pierre de Bruyn. “It can be done for sure,” he said. “Everyone we play is at, or close to, the top of the table, and playing some really good cricket, but we've played some very good cricket in this format ourselves and we are determined to do so again.
“We've lost some close ones, which hurt, because in some cases we failed to take opportunities after getting into good positions. But we can't get those back – we just have to show we've learned from those experiences.”
The Foxes are boosted by the return of key trio McKay, Cosgrove and Mathew Pillans for the trip to Northampton. They are all back in contention after missing this week's Specsavers County Championship draw against Durham.
It means that Leicestershire are able to name the same 14-man squad that was selected for the Lancashire Lightning game last Friday.
Foxes (from): McKay (capt), Aadil, Ackermann, Cosgrove, Delport, Eckersley, Griffiths, Hill, Klein, Parkinson, Pillans, Ronchi, Sayer, Wells.