Foxes v Steelbacks Preview

Leicestershire Foxes captain Colin Ackermann led the charge for the Foxes against Birmingham Bears as his world record bowling figures of 7-18 helped them to back-to-back Vitality Blast wins.

As the Bears entered the final stages of their innings - in which they needed 190 - there were only two runs between the sides before Will Davis made the breakthrough.

Davis took the crucial wicket of Adam Hose in the fourteenth over and broke up the useful partnership of Hose and Sam Hain which totalled 91.

Then, history was made.

Colin Ackermann took the ball for the next over with the Bears on 118-3 after 14, and they finished the fifteenth over on 120 for six.

Ackermann struck three times in the over taking the wickets of Rhodes (2, 4b), Banks (2, 2b) and Thomson (0, 2b) which swung the tie back into the Foxes’ favour and pushed the all-rounder on to four for the game.

There was slight debate regarding the wicket of Rhodes as only Lewis Hill at wicket-keeper was convinced that his captain had bowled the young all-rounder.

After taking to the third umpire Jeremy Lloyds for confirmation, umpire David Millns raised his finger and Rhodes was on his way, as was Ackermann – to a world record.

Ackermann came back in for his final over in the 17th over, and replicated his form from his previous over as the wickets of Hain (61, 44b), Brookes (6, 5b) and Patel (1, 2b) fell.

With the wicket of Patel, Ackermann etched his name in the history books after eclipsing the previous world record of most wickets taken in a T20 fixture of 6-5 with his 7-18.   

Following his achievement, Ackermann said: “It has not really sunk in, it is quite an extraordinary thing. To take seven wickets is incredible.

“Never in a million years would I have believed I would have the best T20 figures ever.

“It is the first time it has really turned at Grace Road this year and I tried to use my height to get a bit of extra bounce.

“If you can turn the ball it is a major weapon in T20 as a spinner. Even if it is only a little, it is a weapon.”

Although he stole the headlines, the captain was quick to praise his teammates in a performance that saw the first Vitality Blast win of the 2019 season at the Fischer County Ground.

He said: “It is a great win for us. I thought Harry Swindells played beautifully at the top to set the game up for us and he and Lewis Hill deserve a lot of credit.”

Furthermore, Ackermann came in for some praise from opposing captain, and world-renowned spinner Jeetan Patel. He said: “It was a fantastic performance.

“The little bit of spin that he could get and from the height that he has - it became very hard for the batters.

“But you can’t take away from what a great spell of bowling it was or the performance from Leicestershire.”

Head Coach Paul Nixon was left thrilled after seeing his Foxes win in-front of a season high attendance of 3,193 at the Fischer County Ground,

He said: “Birmingham Bears are a good side and the way we came out tonight, with the positives taken from Worcestershire – it was the perfect game plan.

“We got a good score on the board, a score that we felt was 20 over par on that wicket – 180 would have been an exceptional score to get.

“The way Harry Swindells played having not had much exposure to T20 cricket – cometh the hour, cometh the man. He played beautifully.

“Lewis [Hill] had a 200-strike rate again and we know how dangerous he is - his 58 off 20-odd balls was high class with the options he took and how clean he struck the ball.”

The former Leicestershire CCC captain was not short of praise for his record-breaking captain after he led the Foxes charge: “7 for 18 off 4 overs. Can you believe it?

“It was an incredible performance, and it just shows that if you put the ball in the right area as the ball grows softer and the wicket grows older - they [Birmingham Bears] could not quite get under it, couldn’t pull it or couldn’t drive it.

“He [Ackermann] got his just rewards, and you can get that in T20 cricket.”

Leicestershire now turn their attention towards a big fixture on Friday (August 9) as Northamptonshire Steelbacks visit the Fischer County Ground having come off a victory against Durham on Wednesday (August 7), and Nixon is fully focussed on the test that lies ahead.

He said: “Every game is huge, and we have got to come back home and do it all again. Whether we do it by batting first or batting second, we know the surface and the dimensions of the ground and we are full of confidence.

“We have got to go again, and this is where we have got to use our momentum. If we want to make a charge, this is where it is.

“We have got to rest up well, and we have got to come back hard and put in another fantastic performance in front of a bumper crowd.

“It is really important that we owe our home supporters. They are very loyal and we want to make sure that we keep going well and drive our victories home.”

Nixon names an unchanged 13-man squad to the one that made it back-to-back victories in the Vitality Blast with wins over Worcestershire Rapids and Birmingham Bears.

Leicestershire Foxes (from 13): Ackermann (capt), Aadil, Cosgrove, Davis, Dearden, Hill (wk), Griffiths, Klein, Lilley, Mike, Parkinson, Swindells, Wright.

* The Foxes continue their Vitality Blast campaign at the Fischer County Ground – led by their world-record setting captain - with the visit of Northamptonshire Steelbacks on Friday (August 9) and you can buy tickets for the fixture HERE.

** You can watch the full interview with Paul Nixon HERE.