Nixon previews Lancashire fixture

Leicestershire CCC travel to Aigburth, Liverpool to face table-topping Lancashire CCC in the first outground fixture of the Specsavers County Championship campaign.

The Foxes travel on the back of a defeat at the Fischer County Ground at the hands of Derbyshire CCC, while Lancashire CCC drew against Gloucestershire CCC in a fixture affected by the weather at the College Ground, Cheltenham.

Head Coach Paul Nixon spoke ahead of the fixture. He said: “Lancashire are playing good cricket at the moment. They are a positive, confident team with a lot of good players and a lot of international cricketers. They have players like Keaton Jennings, Haseeb Hameed, Liam Livingstone, Jimmy Anderson and others.

“It is going to be tough, but we are not at Old Trafford - we are at an outground in Liverpool - they probably won’t like being at Liverpool as much as they would like to be at Old Trafford.

“It could be a good time to take them as we are hurting from the recent loss against Derbyshire and we have got to come back fighting. There's spirit and care in the dressing room and we want to put it right. To beat Lancashire at their place would be massive, and this team has the ability to do that.”

The fixture is the first for Leicestershire CCC this season to be played at an outground and Nixon is looking to use that to the Foxes’ benefit. “It is somewhere that they [Lancashire] do not play regularly,” he said.

“It is a good cricket pitch at Liverpool, it goes through with the new ball and there will be some pace and carry, generally it's a good pitch for batting on the second and third day, and then it can turn on the fourth day, so there is something for everyone.

“But Lancashire don't play there very often, so that's good for us in a way. When it is your home ground and you are playing there day in day out, you get used to the bounce, the surface, the view and the areas you can hit from. It takes a bit longer to settle into a game, so for us it takes a little bit away from the home advantage.”

However, there are factors that Leicestershire CCC need to take in account when travelling away from a side's normal HQ:

“We need to make sure that we enjoy the experience of being at an outground like where we all started, but that we also keep our professional integrity, mindset and focus,” said Nixon.

Despite the disappointment in the defeat against Derbyshire CCC, Nixon took the positives from the performance into the fixture against Lancashire CCC. “The bowling group were outstanding," he said.

“It was a low scoring game on a good pitch, and the way that the bowlers bowled, held the scoreboard and the lack of four-balls bowled was fantastic.

“The way Hassan Azad played when he batted was another positive. He carried his bat through and played beautifully again in the second innings.”

The Foxes come into the fixture on the back of two results that were hard to take, after the weather at Lord’s ended the game prematurely in a draw, and Leicestershire CCC in a commanding position prior to the defeat against Derbyshire CCC, but Nixon feels that the team is in a good place.

He said: “The dressing room is frustrated of course. There is a lot of hurt going around at the moment – but that is good, that is what we want because that shows that they care. It is good to show emotion, it is healthy.

“Then we go away and reflect and then we come back, get our head around things and gain momentum to carry into the next game with a good, positive frame of mind.

“We have a passionate dressing room when we get beat, and we have a passionate dressing room when we win – we take the positives and negatives as a team and we move forward as a team.

“We have a small squad and we have to keep that gel together, and make sure that we are all in a good place so we can go and take that anger and frustration out against Lancashire.”

Leicestershire CCC has named a 13-man squad for the game at Lancashire CCC with opener Sam Evans, all-rounder Neil Dexter, wicket-keeper Harry Swindells and slow left arm spinner Callum Parkinson all in contention.

The game comes too soon for bowling all-rounders Tom Taylor and Ben Mike, who both miss out again through injuries picked up in the recent match against Middlesex CCC at Lord's.

Leicestershire CCC (from 13): Horton (capt), Abbas, Ackermann, Azad, Cosgrove, Davis, Dearden, Dexter, Evans, Klein, Parkinson, Swindells (wk), Wright.