Red ball cricket returns to FCG

Leicestershire CCC Head Coach Pierre de Bruyn said that switching between formats will not be an issue as the side prepare to take on Durham in the Specsavers County Championship tomorrow (11am start).

The fixture schedule sees the longest and shortest forms of the game mixed this week, with the Durham match at the Fischer County Ground sandwiched between NatWest T20 Blast Friday night fixtures against Lancashire Lightning and Northants Steelbacks.

But Leicestershire’s preparation has seen a four-day Friendly against Kent at Beckenham scheduled alongside the Blast fixtures, where a number of players got valuable game time.

Top-order batsmen Paul Horton, Harry Dearden and Ned Eckersley were all in the runs, as were Neil Dexter and Ben Raine, who were making their comebacks for the Foxes, the latter as a batsman only.

Other members of the squad have also been mixing practice to ensure they are ready for the latest challenge.

de Bruyn said: “We want to finish the four-day competition strongly and the Durham game is massively important to us.

“The fixture schedule is always going to present a few issues given the amount of cricket that is played over the course of a season but our planning has allowed us to prepare as best we can.

“Having three games at the Fischer County Ground this week has been a big help because there hasn’t been lots of travelling involved.

“It has also been good to have a four-day Friendly for the Second XI this week, and players not involved in T20 were able to turn their attention back to the red ball in what turned out to be a very close game.

“Everybody part of the NatWest T20 Blast squads have also been having some red ball practice too, so we’re ready to go and looking forward to it.”

Leicestershire want to get off the mark in the competition but know that Durham will present a strong challenge, even without England trio Keaton Jennings, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood.

“We need to be consistent across the four days in all three disciplines. That is the aim in the final five Championship games of the season,” said de Bruyn.

“Durham have a strong squad, with a blend of international experience and some good young players, and we know that it will be a difficult game.

“They have been faced with a number of challenges this season but, as they showed here in NatWest T20 Blast, they are a good side.

“But we are a good side too, and it is important for us to hit the ground running on Sunday morning to ensure we put in a strong performance.”

Leicestershire face some big challenges with injuries ahead of the visit of Durham. Seam trio Raine, Zak Chappell and Richard Jones are all ruled out, and with other players facing fitness tests after the narrow NatWest T20 Blast loss to Lancashire, the Foxes have named a 15-man squad.

Leicestershire (from): Cosgrove (capt), Aadil, Ackermann, Dearden, Dexter, Eckersley, Evans, Fazakerley, Griffiths, Hill, Horton, Klein, McKay, Parkinson, Pillans.