Wasim Khan is an angry man. His Leicestershire have just come to the end of yet another unsuccessful Championship campaign, finishing bottom of the table with not a single victory to their name, and he is not happy.
In a recent interview he has made it clear that another season of failure will not be tolerated. Considering many of the players have just a year left on their contract, that could be read as the threat of a complete overhaul.
It’s not difficult to see why. But for the work of Mark Cosgrove, the Foxes would have finished the season even worse than they did, if such a thing is possible. The South Australian has other experienced batters in his side, such as Paul Horton and Colin Ackermann, but they just aren’t putting on the runs.
With the exception of Ben Raine, who seems as enthusiastic as ever, the bowling leaves a lot to be desired. Young Callum Parkinson has promise, but has little experience. With Clint McKay, who played a lot the season with a bad back, leaving the club there is a definite hole in the bowling.
The Natwest Blast was a vast improvement for the Foxes, but that was largely reliant on overseas T20 signing Luke Ronchi, who may or may not be back next year, and McKay, who definitely won’t be back.
Khan believes there is a level of, as he calls it, “comfortability” at the club; a sense of entitlement – contracts without delivering results – that he believes is demoralising for everyone involved. He has made it very clear: changes need to happen.
The first change has already taken place, and it looks like a positive one. Michael Carberry has made the move from Hampshire and his proven quality will boost the top order.
A new coach is set to be announced soon. Paul Nixon seems to be a favourite, and current assistant coach John Sadler has also thrown his hat in the ring, but Khan may think it’s better to start afresh with someone completely new. Australian Stuart Law, currently coaching the West Indies, is also an option.
Whoever takes on the role, there is little doubt that the boss wants them to be tough on the current line up. With only a couple of exceptions, Leicestershire simply need to do better in all departments.
SSCC: 10th, Division Two
T20 Blast: Quarter-final (4th, North Group)
RLODC: 6th, North Group
SSCC: Mark Cosgrove, 1112 runs
RLODC: Mark Pettini, 294 runs
T20 Blast: Luke Ronchi, 429 runs
SSCC: Ben Raine, 33 wickets
RLODC: Gavin Griffiths, 10 wickets
T20 Blast: Clint McKay, 23 wickets
Player of the Season
If there is one bright spot in the Leicestershire side, it has to be Mark Cosgrove. His 1112 runs in the County Championship was the highest for the county by some 300 runs and put him 4th highest across Division Two. It’s difficult to imagine Leicestershire doing worse in the SSCC, but without Cosgrove they certainly would have done.
After a tough season, it’s not easy to pinpoint a breakthrough player for the Foxes but Callum Parkinson deserves a mention. Having made the move to Grace Road from Derbyshire at the end of the 2016 season, the 20-year-old spinner took 17 SSCC wickets in his five matches. He may not be blowing the records away, but he bowls with a level of control that shows promise for the future. He is also capable of adding valuable runs down the order, which is always useful in a bowler.
Could have done better
After an impressive 2016 for Paul Horton – passing 10,000 championship runs and taking a handful of wickets – his second season at Grace Road seemed something of a disappointment. The 34-year-old has plenty of experience and should really be taking on the role of a strong figure at the top of the order. Instead, his 2017 figures are somewhat lacklustre. He made just over 500 runs in the SSCC and his highest score was 71. Horton, who has plenty of experience, is a much better player than those figures suggest.
Need to work on
Attitude. There seems to be a certain amount of complacency in the Leicestershire camp at the moment. There is little competition for places in the side and, with contracts signed and set, a lot of the players seem happy to be average. A new coaching set up is in the making and Khan has certainly made his feelings clear, so there could be a shake-up soon.
The Foxes have brought in Michael Carberry, which is good news for the batting line up, but the loss of Clint Mckay will definitely be felt in the Blast. A replacement bowler for McKay is a must and a decent overseas signing, as they had in Ronchi this year, should also be under consideration. In general, though, everything needs to improve. The current players simply need to start performing. Hopefully, a new coach will kick things into gear.
No wins in the SSCC, an average-at-best RLODC and a decent Blast campaign. And this is not just one bad year – there have been several in a row. It’s hard to give Leicestershire much of a score. Credit for the shrewd signing of Ronchi must be given, as well as recognition of the results in the T20.