Sunday, 5 October 2008

2008 Season Review : Leicestershire

County Championship D2 - 7th
FP Trophy - Quarter Finals
Twenty20 Cup - Bottom of North Division
Pro40 D2 - 7th

Its ultimately been another disappointing season for Leicestershire. The 2007 season was among the worst in our history but there was some optimism ahead of this season. We released quite a few players who were obviously not up to the demands of first class cricket and substituted them with high profile foreign players. Dippenaar, Kruger and Lawson had played international cricket and Dillon DuPreez was on the verge after an impressive SA domestic season. I'm not saying I was particularly pleased with the Kolpak invasion but it had looked to have brought some much needed quality to the side.

We actually started the season pretty positively too. In the county championship we opened up with a 6 game unbeaten run which included wins over Middlesex and Glamorgan and a near miss against Essex. We topped the table early on with Ackerman scoring runs for fun and the new ball pairing of DuPreez and Malik looking like an inspired combination. We also played some impressive cricket in the Friends Provident Trophy and came through the group stages ahead of Northants and Warwickshire.

Then I guess you would say it was really June that our season fell apart. Ravi Bopara played the most brilliant of knocks to send us packing in the Friends Provident QF and we were an absolute shambles in the Twenty20 cup. The Twenty20 period of the season is something that the people of Leicestershire normally look forward to. We've had a good string of results in this form of the game and since we were rained out of the competition last year, well I expected some extra vigour and another decent shot at the trophy. We just didn't compete at all and lost our first seven games in the competition in pathetic fashion.

Looking back it is quite evident that we didn't have the firepower to compete with other teams. We ha vent really replaced Darren Maddy and struggled to clear the rope and post competitive scores. Our average innings total was 133 and at times we didn't even post run-a-ball totals. The bowlers did a credible job in keeping us in games but ultimately there just wasn't enough runs on the board to defend.

Our season never really got going again as we suffered a Twenty20 hangover. We failed to get a single batting bonus point in the next three games and struggled for runs throughout the second part of the season. HD Ackerman went off the boil and the other top order batsmen failed to deliver. We simply couldn't put ourselves into competitive positions in matches and even when our batsmen did find some of his form, we couldn't push home the advantage. It was a pretty disappointing end to the season and our season was over by mid August.

The Pro40 campaign was disappointing with only one win from eight games. The disappointing thing from the county's point of view is that we were competitive for large parts of games but failed when it came to the crunch time. It was a familiar tail throughout the season that we weren't able to capitalise in games when we were ahead or had a chance of winning. I think Paul Nixon has been a great cricketer for Leicestershire but his captaincy shows a lot of naivety and a lack of killer instinct.

If you were to analysis the main cause of our problems then you would have to point the finger primarily at the batsmen. We struggled to post competitive totals all season long except when Ackerman would make a score and drag other batsmen with him. Four of our top order batsmen averaged under 25 including our overseas player and our vice captain. We also threw youngsters right into the deep end and watched them struggle to stay afloat. I thought the whole point of our strategy of playing seven senior players with four youngsters was to help the younger players develop and give them some sort of protection. It seemed at times during the season like it was the other way round.

The 2009 season already looks like it will be another difficult campaign. The future of Paul Nixon is in doubt after he committed himself to another ICL season and there is a big possibility that he may not be able to represent the club. Garnett Kruger has left the club after some impressive late form and it looks unlikely that we will make any high quality additions to the squad. Lionel Baker and Andy Harris have already been earmarked to join the county in what are both very uninspiring signings and I expect more of the same. The one silver cloud is that we have recently extended the contracts of several of our young players. I don't expect them to perform miracles but at least it shows that the county is on the right track.

Player of the Season: HD Ackerman
Young Player of the Season: Joshua Cobb
Most disappointing player: Boeta Dippenaar
Highlight: Getting into the FP Quarter finals.
Losing our first seven T20 games.


Anonymous said...

The ECB's position on the ICL is crazy.

They are looking at Mushtaq Ahmed as a spin coach for England. I have no problem with this as I can't think of many who would be better, yet he will also play in the next ICL season if fit enough.

It is hard to see how they can then justify a witch hunt of ICL players like Nixon yet even consider directly employing one themselves.

Chrispy said...

Leicestershire went down the road of Kolpaks and it didn't pay off. Prehaps it is because the players they brought in (already established in South African teams) just didn't need to perform to improve. They were happy collecting their money in many cases. Whereas the young English talent which was brought on by the county showed desire and performed at a higher level. Prehaps that is a lesson all counties can learn from. By all means have some experience, but supplement it with lots of hunger from youngsters and the two can feed off each other better, the experienced hand inspiring the young, while the young reinvigorate the experienced. Ackerman, an overseas player and a lot of home grown talent may have performed better. Boyce looks a decent find though and hopefully New will get more games with him next year.

Chrispy said...

Meant Cobb, but Boyce still looks decent!! :-)

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