Nixon sees plenty of potential

Head Coach Paul Nixon believes that Leicestershire has plenty to build on despite an ultimately frustrating 2017 season.

The club were within 21 runs of reaching the play-off in the Royal London One-Day Cup and also qualified for the quarter-finals of T20 Blast for the first time since Nixon’s last playing year in 2011. 

Leicestershire also competed well in many Specsavers County Championship games but there was a common theme as the opposition regularly gained the upper hand in the third innings of the game.

He said: “We were even steven in so many games at the halfway stage, and then it all seemed to fall apart in the third innings. Whether that was fitness levels, concentration and focus levels, something technical with the pitch if the ball keeps low or starts to turn a bit more, I’m not sure. 

“I will watch the videos on the analysis system and do a bit of soul searching with the coaches to get their thoughts on it. It will help our strategy moving forward for practice. It’s important that we practice hard and specifically to make playing much easier. 

“In red ball cricket I want us to be positive and look to develop our skills, and in T20 and one-day cricket we had some great wins against big clubs last season. So the base is there, but performances need to be consistent.”

Talk of wins against Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Birmingham bring back memories of the glory days of T20, where the Foxes reached Finals Day for the first four years.

“We turned over them all in those days, didn’t we?” said Nixon with his eyes lighting up. “Everyone knew their roles, brought into it and played for each other. 

“The overriding factor was that we were the team that was desperate to win and we were smart. When we were under pressure, we knew our personal responsibility within the team, and we all delivered it so many times. It was wonderful. 

“We've done it before and can do it again, we still have very good plans as a club, and a lot of the plans from here were ones that I used in the Caribbean Premier League - and we won there. 

“We have good plans; it's about executing skills under pressure, so if we practice well and get the preparation right, then we will put ourselves in with a good chance.”

Nixon wants to ensure that many Leicestershire players come through the club’s system in order to lay a strong foundation for future years.

The Head Coach has already been part of evening training sessions with the Academy and Leicestershire Young Cricketers, passing on his vast knowledge to the next generation. 

“At Leicestershire we have to be super smart with our money and maximise every penny,” he said. “It's all about the balance for the club and everybody will need to buy into our ethic and vision. That is crucial moving forward; if people have an open mindset then they can still grow. 

“There's a great opportunity for younger players here. Young lads generally don't let you down because they're starting their journey and they will give it their all, which is what you want. 

“Leicestershire has always brought their own players through the system and it's crucial that we keep doing that. 

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about the young players at this club and we need to keep it continuing. That's why I've already started speaking to [Academy Director] Andy Siddall to make sure our next Zak Chappell comes through the line. 

“We have to get the foundations of the club right so that the very same messages go from the pros through to the 10 to 11 year olds. That way, we can fast track them. 

“It's vital that when someone reaches 15 or 16 years old that they are mentally mature and physically ready to play cricket. Technically they will be in a better space than they would have been. 

“We want to get them playing much more cricket so they become the finished article quicker, which will help the club moving forward and also help to produce cricketers for England.”

As well as delivering success for Leicestershire, Nixon still keeps an eye on other sporting teams in the city, as well as his beloved Carlisle United.

“We are very proud of our sporting heritage in Leicester,” he said. “We all have something to prove again. The Tigers have picked up again, the City have an opportunity to move forward with a new manager in Claude Puel. We started our journeys at the same time, which is nice. 

“Leicester was known as the Sporting Capital before, and we had the statue built in the city. Since then teams have had more success, and we’ve also seen the growth of Leicester Riders basketball and the return of Leicester Lions speedway.

“These are exciting times for sport in the region, and it’s great to be right back in the thick of it with Leicestershire.”

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