Chappell excited about Northants clash

Leicestershire all-rounder Zak Chappell is anticipating another exciting encounter as Northamptonshire arrive for the final match of the 2017 season.

The two teams played out a classic game in the pink ball round of Specsavers County Championship fixtures at Wantage Road in June.

Leicestershire looked set to record their first-class chase but Rory Kleinveldt, who took match figures of 13 for 98 against Nottinghamshire this week, claimed the final wicket with just three runs required.

County could hardly have come closer to landing their first victory in the competition and want to go one better this time around.

They will face a stern test against a visiting side that emerged victorious against Nottinghamshire on Friday to keep themselves in contention for promotion. Northants now need to beat Leicestershire and see another result go their way in order to step up to Division One.

Leicestershire gave a very good account of themselves last time out against a Worcestershire side that lead the table going into the last round – and Chappell said the team are now looking for a similar performance with a different outcome.

“We’ll need to put in a good performance again and if we can win against Northants it would be a reward for the Members and supporters, who've been patient,” said Chappell.

“Northants have been in good form of late and will have a lot to play for, and we really want to record a victory, so it should be a great game.

“We know the talent is there, but we can't keep saying that and not delivering where it counts, on the field. A win would be a big lift going into the close season.”

Chappell bowled with pace and movement in the tour match against West Indies and then showed class with the bat at New Road, making scores of 48 and 66.

The 21-year-old has bags of potential and wants to take some wickets against Northants to enter the winter programme on a high note.

He said: “It's important to contribute, and I did some work with Carbs [Michael Carberry] in the nets which paid off, it was good fun, especially putting on a hundred with Lewis Hill.

“With my bowling, I started the season reasonably well, playing in both first-class and one-day cricket. 

“Missing eight to ten weeks with a groin injury was a setback, something partly to do with still growing. It all seems to be settled now and hopefully I can find some rhythm against Northants.

“I felt good in the tour match against the West Indies, but I didn't get it right against Worcester last week, so it would be good to finish the season in a positive way with the ball.

“I know exactly what I need to do over the close season in terms of my bowling, but it would be good to pick up a few wickets in the final game and have the confidence that comes from that.”

There are three changes to the Leicestershire squad that travelled to Worcestershire a fortnight ago. 

Top order batsman Sam Evans, who scored a first-class century against Northants for Loughborough MCCU earlier this season, could make his Specsavers County Championship debut. Seamer Gavin Griffiths and off-spinner Rob Sayer are also pushing for starts after being named in the 13.

Leicestershire announced on Friday that, through mutual agreement, seamer Clint McKay will not play against Northants. Captain Mark Cosgrove has paid tribute to McKay, who will leave Leicestershire at the end of the game having taken 199 wickets for the club at an average of under 25.

“Clint has been fantastic for us on and off the field, he's one of those cricketers who gives everything to every ball. Whatever the situation of the match, he never gives up, and he can be very proud of his record for Leicestershire,” said Cosgrove.

“He took on a leadership role from ball one, part of that was to help kids develop, and his work will have an effect on the young bowlers coming through here over the next few years.”

There will be at least one enforced change for Northants after a fine performance against Notts saw them move within 13 points of their opponents and 19 of leaders Worcestershire.

Ben Duckett was unable to bat in the second innings because of a fractured finger and has been ruled out of tomorrow's clash. Adam Rossington could step into the XI as he is expected to return from injury.

Captain Alex Wakely also suffered an injury in the field and slotted down the order second time around, so Northants will be hoping their captain is fit to bat in his cutomary number three position.

Destiny is not in Northamptonshire’s hands ahead of the final round of matches as the current top two cannot be caught if they secure six and 12 points respectively.

It means that Worcestershire could have elevation wrapped up after the first innings of their game against Durham, one example being if the Pears score 300 and take nine wickets within 110 overs of each innings. 

If second placed Notts can secure seven out of the eight bonus points on offer against Sussex, then a draw at Hove would secure Division One status.

Everything is set for an exciting final round of fixtures that also sees four teams battling it out for Division One survival. They include Somerset and Middlesex, who meet in Taunton.

Leicestershire (from): Cosgrove (capt), Aadil, Carberry, Chappell, Dexter, Eckersley, Evans, Griffiths, Hill, Klein, Parkinson, Raine, Sayer.