We're ready for challenges of 2019 - Nixon

Leicestershire CCC Head Coach Paul Nixon feels that the Foxes are in a good place as they start stepping up preparations for the 2019 season.

The players and coaches had some hard-earned time off over Christmas and New Year after the 2018 campaign and starting the first phase of the winter training programme.

For Nixon, that meant spending some deserved time back in his native Cumbria with family and friends.

He even managed to squeeze in seeing a 6-0 win at Brunton Park for his beloved Carlisle United, who are eyeing the League Two automatic promotion places after a brilliant run of form.

“It's always nice to see Carlisle have a good win, as it is with Leicestershire,” said Nixon with a smile. “Carlisle have been flying and it’s amazing what a bit of momentum can do in any sport. 

“We saw that last season in our red ball cricket, and with three teams going up in 2019, it’s a great opportunity for us all in Division Two to give it a right go.

“But for us, the focus is on progression, as the five wins we had last season followed on from a few difficult years, so we'll look no further than the Sussex game.

“We hope that all of our Members and fans had a great Christmas and New Year - although it seems like a while ago now!

“The players worked hard in the first part of the winter training programme before Christmas, and as I’ve said before, we want to have the hardest working and most caring environment. We thought that it was important for everyone to spend time with their family and loved ones over the break. 

“But they were tested before and after, and kept up with some fitness work while they were away in various parts of the UK. We’ve had optional sessions, both in terms of cricket specifics and gym work, and there has been a great uptake for that.

“We have a brilliant new partnership with David Lloyd Meridian which allows the players to train off site too, so we feel we’re in a great place ahead of the next phase of the training programme.”

Although the programme will now be ramped up, the Foxes are no strangers to hard work having being put through their paces from the start of November last year.

Nixon said: “The majority of the squad reported back at the Fischer County Ground at the start of November, and now we have a few players in warmer climes working hard on their games.

“It’s fair to say that we worked them hard before Christmas, including a batting session where you also work on your strength and endurance, and fielding sessions in the indoor centre at Leicester City in November and December.

“Although that sounds nice being indoors – I can assure you it’s colder inside the dome than outside! But it was important that we worked hard on our fielding at the earliest point because it was an area we identified throughout the 2018 season.”

The new season is fast approaching, underlined by the fact that the Foxes have pencilled in their first two-day Friendly at Derbyshire on Wednesday, March 20. Then follows the season opener against a Loughborough MCCU team that always presents a strong challenge.

There may well be other fixtures played before the first match of the season on Friday, April 5 at a Sussex CCC side who narrowly missed out on promotion in 2018, but preparation will be structured with that date in mind.

“From my experience, time flies after Christmas and before you know it, we’ll be at Derbyshire in the middle of March if the weather holds up,” said Nixon.

“That’s amazing when you think about it, as when I started as a player we might have been running up and down the hills at Bradgate Park in March - but not attempting to play cricket!

“There’s a nice balance to our pre-season programme with opportunities for red ball practice ahead of the Specsavers County Championship opener at Sussex, but we’ll also need to get into our stride for white ball cricket given the early start of the Royal London One-Day Cup.

“It will be all go, but as I’ve said before, it’s like the Big Brother House for six or seven months during the season, so everyone is prepared for the challenges we have. Once we get towards the end of May, there’s quite a nice balance with a Championship game virtually every week around the Vitality Blast competition.

“We have an interesting start in the [Specsavers County] Championship against two strong sides – one who nearly went up last year in Sussex, and one who nearly stayed up in Worcestershire. It will give a good indication of where we’re at, even at an early stage.”

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