The Derbyshire Falcons welcome old East Midlands rivals Leicestershire Foxes to their home ground at Derby this Thursday, in the first of a T20 two-day double header.
The visitors are having a much-improved T20 season and remain the most successful in the English T20 competition. They sit third on the North Group table with three victories and a washout and will not be willing to let go of the momentum.
In the opposite fixture, the Falcons were roundly beaten by their hosts at Grace Road and have continued to struggle since. In some matches the batting has been poor and in others the bowling has been an issue. The side has simply struggled to pull their performances together.
In fairness to Derbyshire, they have had a lot of injuries this season, not least of which was Wayne Madsen’s broken thumb. Both the Foxes and the Falcons, however, have had their share of overseas players to pump up the side.
Tillakaratne Dilshan will play his last game for the hosts before heading off to the Caribbean Premier League, while Leicestershire will have Umar Akmal for the last time as well. Derbyshire still have death bowler Nathan Rimmington in their arsenal and the Foxes have the powerful Mark Cosgrove leading the side.
These two sides have a long and friendly rivalry and it’s always a lot of fun when they meet. The hosts are in dire need of a win and, after a couple of disappointing seasons in all formats, the visitors will be very keen to keep up that winning feeling.
As the overseas players come and go this season, one man that remains central to the side is Chesney Hughes. His explosive batting style has many times held the Falcons line up together and the side needs his skills at this stage of the tournament.
With muggy weather throughout Wednesday and Thursday morning, and the occasional spot of rain, Clint McKay’s variable pace could prove important for the visitors. The Falcons’ batting has struggled in this format this year, not least against the Foxes in the reverse fixture, so an unpredictable bowler like McKay will be useful.
Alex Hughes returns from injury for the Falcons this week, while Ben Cotton sits the night out with an injury. Wayne Madsen returned for the defeat at Chelmsford earlier in the week and is named in the T20 squad, but Wes Durston retains the captaincy.
Tillakaratne Dilshan missed the Essex match for personal reasons, but returns tonight for his final appearance before heading to the CPL.
Derbyshire squad: Wes Durston (captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Scott Elstone, Billy Godleman, Alex Hughes, Chesney Hughes, Tom Knight, Wayne Madsen, Tom Poynton (wicketkeeper), Nathan Rimmington, Shiv Thakor, Wayne White
The Foxes will say goodbye to Umar Akmal after tonight. Kevin O’Brien is missing due to his duties with Ireland, although his brother Niall remains. Clint McKay, who was rested against Lancashire this week, returns to the side. Kiwi Grant Elliot is still on international duty.
Leicestershire squad: Mark Cosgrove (c), Andrea Agathangelou, Umar Akmal, Matthew Boyce, Ned Eckersley, Clint McKay, Jigar Naik, Niall O’Brien, Ben Raine, Atif Sheikh, Charlie Shreck, James Sykes, Rob Taylor, Tom Wells
Weather and Conditions
Derby can expect some cloud cover through the day, but the sun will emerge in plenty of time for the game.
Date: Thursday 18th June, 2015
Ground: The 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Umpires: Martin Bodenham & Peter Hartley
Odds (via SkyBet): Derbyshire 6/5, Leicestershire 4/6