Eckersley and Chappell return to boost Foxes

Ned Eckersley and Zak Chappell are returning from injury to give another boost to Leicestershire Foxes ahead of tomorrow’s Royal London One-Day Cup opener at Northamptonshire Steelbacks.

The duo come into a first white ball squad of 2018 already buoyed by registering a thrilling three-run win against Glamorgan CCC in the Specsavers County Championship last Sunday.

Head Coach Paul Nixon believes that crossing the winning line will add to momentum as the Foxes head across the border, particularly given that the final session amounted to a one-day scenario with bowlers faced with batsmen trying to clear the ropes.

“It was a tight game against Glamorgan, almost a white ball game in the end, and winning those sort of matches does your confidence a lot of good,” said Nixon.

“It’s a change of formats but a lot of similar processes are involved. Fifty-over cricket is very different to 20-over cricket.

“A new ball at each end tests the batsmen's technique early on, and a lot depends on assessing the pitch and conditions as to what is a good score.

“We need to hit the ground running, we're very much aiming to get to through to the knockout stages this year, and early wins will be crucial.”

Nixon said the squad has reflected on Sunday’s dramatic final session where Marchant de Lange smashed 90 off 45 balls to put drag Glamorgan CCC to within a blow of victory before being caught on the boundary by Callum Parkinson off the bowling of Ben Raine. 

It was the sort of innings that could have won any given Vitality Blast match - let alone a red ball or 50-over encounter - and Nixon feels that coming through the experience will stand his young attack in good stead.

“We've talked about the game, and what our options should be when a batsman is coming hard at us, as [Marchant] de Lange did for Glamorgan.

“Our thinking perhaps got a little cluttered in the closing stages, so we've taken a valuable lesson from that ahead of our white ball campaign.

“We’ve been working hard on white ball batting scenarios today and the bowlers have also worked on their plans with Matt Mason, so we’re in a good place.”

Nixon knows that the Steelbacks will present a tough opening examination but wants his batsmen to continue their good early season form.

He said: “Northamptonshire have done extremely well in white ball competitions in recent seasons but have been struggling in the [Specsavers County] Championship this year, so I'm sure they've been looking forward to putting the red ball away for a while.

“But the good thing for us is that not many of their players will be full of confidence – whereas I think our top six is in a good space. Realistically, in this format, you look to your top six to win you the game.”

The 13-man travelling party has a similar look to the last red ball squad named with Eckersley and Chappell coming in. Dieter Klein is rested.

Nixon said: “We thought about resting young Gavin [Griffiths], who has been outstanding this season in picking up 18 [Specsavers County] Championship wickets in four games, but his white ball skills are very good.

“Dieter [Klein] hasn’t played much cricket by being a part of the first team squad, but he bowled on Tuesday and will have a break for this one.”

Northants has also named a 13-man squad with Rory Kleinveldt set for his first start of the 2018 season. Kleinveldt is one of a number of all-rounders in the Steelbacks squad, with Josh Cobb, Rob Keogh, Luke Procter and Steven Crook also providing Alex Wakely with different options.

Foxes (from 13): Aaron, Ackermann, Carberry, Chappell, Cosgrove, Dexter, Eckersley, Griffiths, Hill, Horton, Javid, Parkinson, Raine.

Steelbacks (from 13): Wakely (capt), Cobb, Procter, Levi, Duckett, Wakely, Rossington, Keogh, Crook, Kleinveldt, White, Hutton, Sanderson, Zaib.

* The Foxes' first home game in the Royal London One-Day Cup is against Notts Outlaws on Wednesday, May 23. Tickets cost £12 for adults, £3 under 16s and £27 for a family ticket (2 adults and 3 under 16s) in advance and can be purchased HERE