So what sort of challenge will the Championship pose for the Foxes this season, or perhaps more appropriate what challenge will the foxes pose?
The first thing to say is how amazing it was to see such a good track produced, for the first game. With the weather we have suffered this 'spring' the prospect of the away side wanting to bat first was quite frankly remarkable; well done Andy Ward & team.
Muhammad Abbas looks every inch a quality bowler (England beware) and offers that nagging accuracy so badly missing for long periods of seasons past, just a shame we will have to wait until August to see him again. Lets hope that his replacement Varun Aaron is from a similar mould.
The highlight was undoubtedly the batting on Saturday & Sunday of Colin Ackermann. We only saw glimpses of this mans talent last year, lets hope that in his 2nd season he feels more at home both with the schedule and the regime now in place, because this was an early season innings of the highest quality.
Cozzie was, well Cozzie. I am sure everyone breathed a big sigh of relief that he looks to have returned showing no ill effects from the Captaincy saga at the end of last season.
Do we have the resources to bowl sides out twice and actually win a match, on flat pitches in the summer maybe not. Oh hold on a minute we don't play Championship cricket in the summer any more do we. So with early and late season movement we may just have enough to take 20 wickets. It was clear to see Matt Mason's influence on both Gav Griffiths and Parky who both bowled with a greater maturity than we have seen before.
I remain nervous about our batting and the ability to consistently make big scores. If anything disappointed a little about game 1 it was our reluctance to press on for an additional batting point when the opportunity presented itself.
And so to round 2 and a Derbyshire side flush with the success of a first home win since 2014. We have named 12 and with Ned Eckersley fit again I suspect the choice will come down to playing an extra batter in Hill with Klein missing out or Klein plays and Lewis is the one to carry the water.
With the forecast as depressing as anything seen to date I suspect we will have to wait until saturday for that decision and I wouldn't expect anything other than the foxes being 'invited' to bat, leaving the way clear for our old friend Wayne Madsen to get his customary 100 when conditions improve a little.
Pack you blankets, flasks of hot soup and hand warmers, put on your fleece lined long johns as when it does dry up expect it to be a good 10 to 15 degrees colder than last Saturday
Well its wet, not just wet but sodden, dripping; it feels more like November than April and those of us counting down the days to the start of another season will have to wait a bit longer for the action to start.
So what can we expect when the sun finally comes out and play gets under way? With the first 3 championship matches at home there is a fair bet that we will be asked to bat first.
Perhaps someone will emulate the achievements of C.J.B Wood that revered opening bat of a hundred years ago. In 1911 he created (a then unique) record becoming the first player to carry his bat through both innings and score a hundred in each innings. The 9th Duke of Rutland, later to become president of the Club sent good old Cecil a telegram which read:
"Many congratulations to you on your wonderful achievement. I hope the rest of the Xl will put their backs into the game and help to win a match soon"
A sentiment all followers of our beloved Foxes will echo 107 years on !
Did we get any clues from the 2 and a bit days of practice so far, well not many. The coach writing in this weeks 'TheCricket Paper' suggests that he is pretty much decided on the 13 man squad for Sussex next week. If so then its probably fair to say that the batting is going to centre around Carberry, Horton, Dexter, Cosgrove & Ackermann and the bowling around Chappell, Raine, Griffiths, & Klein. Of course we have not yet seen our overseas wizz Muhammad Abbas but I would expect him to feature.
Nico looks to be keeping us guessing over the wicketkeeping slot with both Ned Eckersley and Lewis Hill sharing the duties in the practice games. He is one of the most naturally gifted players we have in the squad and with his cultured 85 against Notts I would be disappointed if Lewis Hill were to miss out.
So what of new recruit Ateeq Javid and Parky. I guess with things being so wet you could argue there is no place for a spinner but I really hope not. We suffered so much last season through a lack of variation in the bowling dept that I would like to think we build some sort of strategy around getting Parky as much game time as possible. He proved last season in August & September that he is a real wicket taker.
I just hope that the selection lottery of last season is a thing of the past and we show some consistency from the off.
For what its worth and a week away from that first game, I would go with
3. N Dexter
6. L Hill
8. Z Chappell
It's the 20 year anniversary of our last winning of the trophy for 'proper cricket' but I find professional sports people are not big on history & records they perform in the here and now. Preferring to focus on the moment not the past.
Its the older times like me that live on the memories, each year I dust off the commemorative plate from 1998 and wonder what might be, I know languishing in the 2nd tier that past glories are some way off but with a new coach fresh optimism 2018 might just be a step in the right direction.
Here we are a week away from the first pre-season 'friendly' at Grace Rd against Notts and just a couple of weeks from the opening game against Loughborough MCCU. We can only hope that the match against the students is less damaging to the season as a whole than last March proved.
One thing though is sure, even a later start (last years game was at the end of March) will see plenty of cold hands
The AGM was held last week. Congratulations to those elected to the board and commiserations to those unsuccessful. With Paul Nixon now with his feet firmly under the table there is an air of optimism not seen for some seasons.
Further reasons to 'feel good' about the summer to come was the announcement of a return to Oakham for an RL50 game in May v Lancashire and a small profit for the 3rd year running
So on the brink of the new season what of the bigger picture ?
Well it feels like the game is also on the brink. Unrest in the ECB ranks, disquiet amongst members, players following the sun and the $ across the world dictating terms with 'White Ball' contracts while the Counties are stuck in the middle.
Lets be honest anyone talking about 'White ball' cricket really means T20. At least in the UK; where a single 50 over competition with 7 games, played before June is out hardly constitutes a significant career step forward. In fact when you look at Leics accounts for the last year match receipts for the RL50 were less than 50% of the receipts for the county championship and when you combine the receipts from both competitions they still total less than 16% of the total for T20.
If anyone doubts where the future is just crunch the numbers.
So what of 'proper cricket' ? The disappointing performances of the National team this winter have at least stirred some long overdue debate but where exactly that takes us is anyone's guess. I don't doubt that the non test match Counties are keener to secure a more sensible format but whether they carry enough weight to see a positive outcome is debatable.
Put in context it appears that Glamorgan have received £2.5m for not hosting test matches. LCCC's share of the ECB pot last year was £2.1m. A coming together of the 10 non test counties and the minor counties in some form of semi-pro competition is a distinct possibility in the 2020's.
On the brink indeed.....
So make sure you dig out the long johns, heavy sweaters, woolly hats and gloves, the season is almost here
As the new season approaches Leicestershire CCC held a Club Expo on 11th February. In the Charles Palmer suite at Grace Rd over 50 local clubs attended the day. A wide range of organisations were there to offer guidance and advice on everything from Finance and Insurance to Ground maintenance.
Clubs could talk to experts about everything from clothing to pitch covers, fencing & bowling machines.
All Stars Cricket and the Joe Humphries Memorial Trust were also on hand, showcasing their great work. As were ladies from the Loughborough Lightning looking forward to a new Kia Super league season. Do you know the Lightning are the only Kia super league team not directly linked to a county club !
There was standing room only in the breakout sessions where Sue Redfern the first lady to Play and Umpire in a world cup spoke about raising finance and all things grants and loans for local clubs. Justin Tose the new county deputy CEO also provided an informative address.
Fair play to Andy Hibberd and the community team for the idea and the top organisation. will be interesting to know if they plan to make this a regular event.
A few shots of the day feature below