Nixon pleased with new recruits

Leicestershire CCC Head Coach Paul Nixon feels that the addition of three signings will provide a quality and freshness to the squad for the 2019 season.

The Foxes will have a slightly different look next year with new faces arriving in seamers Chris Wright and Will Davis, as well as all-rounder Arron Lilley.

Experienced bowler Wright played in all 14 Specsavers County Championship matches for title winners Warwickshire CCC, taking 41 wickets with a best return of five for 32 against Gloucestershire CCC.

Davis and Lilley have also produced some eye-catching performances for Derbyshire CCC and Lancashire CCC over the years, and Nixon is looking forward to what they will bring.

“Chris Wright has been a highly consistent performer at Warwickshire over the last few years,” said Nixon.

“He didn’t always get the credit because of the talk around a lack of pace in the Ashes last year, and the breakthrough of quick bowlers such as Henry Brookes and Olly Stone last season.

“Warwickshire also had Chris Woakes available for some games, so Chris [Wright] is one of those unsung heroes who did a great job every game without really making the headlines.

“But his record speaks for itself, and when you see the comments made after he announced he was joining us, you can see what a great man we are getting as well as a great bowler. That’s important to us.

“Will Davis is somebody that John Sadler knows well from Derbyshire, and he is a similar mould to Tom Taylor – an exciting young bowler who has seen his opportunities limited because of injuries and other signings at Derby.

“Will has genuine pace and is somebody that will only get working alongside [Head Bowling Coach] Matt Mason and Muhammad Abbas, who has we have seen is a world-class operator. Both Chris and Will are more than capable batsmen too, which will add to our depth.”

All-rounder Lilley saw first-class opportunities limited at Lancashire CCC given the emergence of Matt Parkinson, the twin brother of Foxes slow left armer Callum, but became a key part of their white ball sides. Although Lilley will offer the Foxes plenty of options in those areas, he is also determined to play more red ball cricket.

“We felt that adding another spinner to our squad for all formats was important,” said Nixon. “Arron [Lilley] is well-known for going up the order in T20 and scoring quickly, and you can draw parallels with Ben Raine with that. His first-class batting average is also good, so he gives us different options.

“Arron is also one of the safest pair of hands on the circuit, he takes some spectacular catches but will also raise standards in terms of general fielding here. It’s an area where we recognise there is plenty of room for improvement from last season.

“He’s also a competitor, someone who likes to get into a battle and has come out on the right side of them for Lancashire. Arron is a great addition to the group and is hungry to play in all formats.” 

While the majority of players have been enjoying a hard-earned rest after a typically busy English summer, Abbas and Colin Ackermann have been straight back in action – and hitting the headlines.

Abbas was named as man-of-the-series after taking 17 wickets during the two-test series win against Australia and moved up to third place in the rankings as a result. His performances were praised worldwide and continued an excellent start to his test career with 59 wickets in 10 matches.

All-rounder Ackermann plundered a century for Warriors in an excellent win against Durban and followed that up with 79 in the next first-class game against Knights. The Foxes No.3, who was the leading scorer both in the Specsavers County Championship and Vitality Blast in the 2018 season, has now scored 17 first-class centuries and averages above 40.

Nixon said: “We all know that Mo [Muhammad Abbas] is absolute class, the way he moved the ball off the seam last season was great to watch, but to possess that skill playing in the UAE is even more impressive. He is a master of his trade and could soon be the No.1 bowler in test cricket.

“Ackers [Colin Ackermann] had a very good season last year, both as top scorer in the Championship and also leading us in Vitality Blast. It’s great to see him immediately finding good form back in South Africa.”

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