Foxes ready for County Championship

Arron Lilley heads into his first fixture as a Leicestershire Fox as the squad travel down to Hove to take on Sussex CCC in their opening Specsavers County Championship fixture of the season.

The off-spinning all-rounder joined the Foxes during the winter at the end of the 2018 season and has slotted in well.

“It has been great - the lads have helped me massively to settle in,” he said.

“It has obviously been a big change for me as I have been at Lancashire since I was 12 years old, so I spent 15 years there. Now I have come to Leicestershire, and it has been brilliant.”

The all-rounder has been named in the squad and sees his role clearly, but is also focused on progressing his cricket in a number of aspects.

He said: “We have got some brilliant experience, and some great young lads as well. I am kind of in the middle, and probably classed as one of the senior players. But I am still only 28.

“Yet I’ve only played 12 one-day games and 15 first-class games so hopefully I can play a lot more here. I think we have got a very good squad that can challenge in all formats.”

With the first fixture of the season away at Sussex CCC, followed by a home fixture against Worcestershire CCC and then straight into a burst of limited overs cricket, the Foxes have a busy beginning to the campaign.

Lilley thinks that the squad has the personnel to see them through it successfully. He said: “I have spoken to the lads and we have had a few meetings. We have got a good enough squad to go back at the bigger clubs, which hopefully we can do this year.

“There is plenty of experience with Cozzie [Mark Cosgrove], Ackers [Colin Ackermann], [Muhammad] Abbas – especially in the red ball stuff.

“Gav [Gavin Griffiths] had a very good season last year, - so hopefully we can challenge and go pretty hard at some of the bigger clubs.”

The former Lancashire CCC man has set his sights on building up first-class experience and becoming more involved with the red ball.

“As an individual, I don’t set targets,” he said. “Success for me would be to contribute in the red ball game, and of course play more of the white ball matches as an all-rounder.

“And it would be nice to have a good cup run, in either T20 or 50 overs. It would be really good for us to go quite a long way.

“Looking around the ground there are a lot of images of the T20 successes of the past and I do not see why we cannot emulate those.”

As the squad travels down to Sussex for the opening challenge of the 2019 Specsavers County Championship campaign, the fruits of the labour of a hard winter’s work is evident.

Lilley said: “You know Nico [Paul Nixon] and the strength and conditioning department here, they have high standards and have got us all in shape. All of the lads are feeling excited about the season, so we’re fit and raring to go.”

Leicestershire CCC has named a 13-man squad for the trip to the south coast, with Lilley one of four players looking for a maiden Specsavers County Championship appearance for the club.

Fellow new signings Chris Wright, Will Davis and Hassan Azad, who impressed with a fine century in the game against Loughborough MCCU last week, are also in the travelling party.

Muhammad Abbas will not link up with his teammates given that he has been on ODI duty for Pakistan against Australia recently, Callum Parkinson has stepped up his recovery from a thumb injury, Sam Evans (hamstring) is side-lined, while Neil Dexter is currently unavailable for personal reasons.

Sussex CCC (from 13): Brown (capt & wk), Briggs, Burgess, Finch, Haines, Hamza, Jordan, Robinson, Sakande, Salt, van Zyl, Wells, Wiese.

Leicestershire CCC (from 13): Horton (capt), Ackermann, Azad, Cosgrove, Davis, Dearden, Griffiths, Hill (wk), Javid, Lilley, Mike, Taylor, Wright.