Foxes all set for 2019 opener

Leicestershire CCC come up against Loughborough University tomorrow (March 26) for the opening first-class fixture before the 2019 Specsavers County Championship campaign gets underway at Sussex on Friday week.

The three-day game will start at 10:30am on each day, which is a change to the initial scheduled start time of 11am after consultation with the ECB.

With the majority of the squad having returned from their winter break, Chris Wright, Will Davis and Arron Lilley are looking for their first outings as a Fox.

That is also is the case for top-order batsman Hassan Azad. The left-hander, who has made eight first-class appearances for Loughborough MCCU, is also in the Foxes squad for the first time against his former student teammates after signing a contract for the 2019 season. Azad batted well for the Second XI throughout 2018 and had an impressive innings during the intra-squad game on Friday.

The quartet have been named in a 13-man squad for the match against a Loughborough MCCU side that has always provided a good examination ahead of the opening Specsavers County Championship fixtures of the season. Mark Cosgrove and Colin Ackermann will link up with their teammates later this week, while Muhammad Abbas is currently playing for Pakistan in their ODI series against Australia.

Leicestershire CCC Head Bowling Coach Matt Mason is excited about the new additions to the bowling attack, and is trying to incorporate a ‘unit’ mentality amongst them.

“One thing that I am trying to put together here, and we all are, is to have this really close-knit bowling group that know a lot about each other, what makes them tick and also to know how hard to work.

“The standards are very high, and expectations are also high, and they will need each other to help reach those. I am really happy to say that over this tough winter they have worked together a lot which has been beneficial for them.”

One of those bowlers, Gavin Griffiths, is excited about getting back on to the field as he prepares himself for a big season, his third as a Fox. Griffiths impressed greatly in 2018 - with bat as well as ball - and has been putting in the hard yards to ensure that his game continues to develop.

“This winter I've worked really hard with Matt Mason, we've made more technical changes and I should be ready to consistently excel, not just compete,” said Griffiths. “It feels like, at 25, I'm finally starting to understand my own game.

“We've got a high quality signing in Chris Wright from Warwickshire, a County Championship winner, Ben Mike is a year older and stronger, Tom Taylor is fit and looking good, Will Davis has come from Derbyshire and impressed everyone and Dieter Klein is looking sharp, so from a bowling point of view the first selection is going to be interesting.

“The good thing is we now have seven or eight bowlers, whereas last season we only really used four or five for all three formats, and it was no coincidence that towards the back end three of us got injured in five days, so I expect there will be more rotation.

“In red ball, it's about continuing to make progress and hopefully step up even further after winning five games last season, our best for eight years.”

Admission to the three days, and parking, is free of charge. For further information on catering, find everything you to need to know by clicking HERE

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