8th April 2019
We showed true application under pressure - Nixon
Foxes Head Coach Paul Nixon was delighted after his Leicestershire CCC side left the 1st Central County Ground with their first Specsavers County Championship win of the season.
There were plenty of twists and turns during the four days at Hove, but the Foxes walked away with a well-deserved seven-wicket win.
Nixon said: “I am absolutely delighted. The way the boys stuck in there, you know it is a marathon in four-day cricket, and the boys played beautifully.
“To watch the captain Paul Horton and Hassan Azad show true application under pressure – the final innings is always a high-pressure time and the manner in which they played is exactly the way they practised and played in the winter.
“To win big games against teams like Sussex – it is the first time we have won here in 17 years, I believe – and to do so you need a collective, it can’t just be one or two people scoring the runs.”
At the beginning of play on the third day, Sussex CCC appeared to be in the driving seat after a solid period of second innings batting on Saturday.
But brilliant performances from Colin Ackermann and Tom Taylor, who shared nine second innings wickets, saw off the second innings of Sussex just after lunch to leave the Foxes with a chase of 230.
Nixon spoke about the impact of the words of captain Paul Horton during what proved to be a critical period of the game.
“I’ve got to give credit to Paul [Horton],” said Nixon. “The wicket was losing its pace and the ball was getting older and he said: ‘this is the time in the match that we have to get a hold of it.’ He asked the guys to stand up; we were off the pace and he asked us to lift everything.
“The guys did that straightaway as soon as they went out [on day three], Tommy [Tom Taylor] opened the door for us with a wicket with his fifth ball, and we had momentum.
“The energy that we came out with, we demanded those wickets, and it was good to get the last two straight after lunch to keep the chase below 250.
“Again, it is about the collective and we did everything right. We put the ball in good areas, we had presence as a fielding unit. We asked a lot of questions and we got our rewards.”
Along with the win, there were a number of career bests and career firsts during the game as seamer Taylor produced career-best stats of ten for 122, off-spinner Ackermann produced career-best innings figures of five for 69, and Azad posted his maiden County Championship half-century on debut.
“Hassan Azad has come in and he has had a tough time finding himself a county,” said Nixon. “But he has come in and we showed belief in him and he reminds me of a modern day Andy Flower.
“The fact that he wants to bat and bat and bat, along with his mental resilience, his attention to detail and his hunger for runs and being out in the middle is great. He may not score at a tempo that is ultra-pleasing for people to watch, but what that does is get the shine off the ball.
“It is 35, 40 or 50 overs old by the time Mark Cosgrove and Colin Ackermann walk out to bat, he is doing such a great job for those guys and that is where we feel the benefit.”
There were a number of impressive performances which give the Head Coach a number of choices to make going into the next Specsavers County Championship game against Worcestershire at the Fischer County Ground on Thursday:
He said: “We were so pleased with the whole group and it is going to make things interesting now, selection wise - but it is a great thing to have this time of the year.”