Another Friday night, another East Midlands derby for cricket fans to look forward to. This week Leicestershire Foxes welcome the Derbyshire Falcons to Grace Road in The Natwest T20 Blast, where the two sides have had contrasting fortunes this season.
The Foxes, who have the pedigree of a Crufts best-in-show dog in this competition, find themselves rooted firmly to the foot of the North group this season; while the Falcons, who have the pedigree of a mongrel, find themselves knocking on the door of the quarter finals. If Derbyshire win the game and other results go their way, they could find themselves as high as third in the group.
The three time T20 champion Foxes, however, have little to play for as they endure a disappointing season which has seen them triumph only twice.
Derbyshire will be itching to dust off, or even dry off, their kit and play some cricket after the washed out cricket festival at Chesterfield’s Queen’s Park. They will also be keen to build on their last completed Natwest T20 outing against the Worcestershire Rapids, which saw them chase 188 for the loss of just 3 wickets.
Leicestershire’s last outing also saw them play Worcestershire in the Specsavers County Championship, losing by three wickets, however they performed very well and will be taking great confidence from their performance in that game.
It looks like we’ll be in for a very close game on Friday night, but perhaps Derbyshire Falcons will just edge ahead, as they did in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Neil Dexter has been in the form of his life recently, scoring runs for fun, mainly in the championship. If he can convert that form into the shortest form of the game, however, then Leicestershire will increase their chances of winning no end. Couple that with his niggly medium pace bowling and his experience in the field and it’s clear he is a key cog in the Leicestershire machine.
Alex Hughes has been pivotal in the Natwest T20 Blast for Derbyshire this year, with his economical bowling and sound middle order batting. His ability to keep the middle overs tight whilst nurdling out a wicket or two has been vital in The Falcon’s successes this Season. Add to this the leadership he has shown in Wes Durston’s absence: he has become a key part of The Falcons T20 side. If Hughes can bowl his four overs cheaply and weigh in with quick middle order runs, then it will go a long way to helping Derbyshire prevail.
Leicestershire welcome their new overseas signing, South African all-rounder Farhaan Behardien, who will make his debut for the Foxes on Friday night. Derbyshire have named a 13 man squad but all indications are that they will be unchanged from the side that triumphed last time out.
Leicestershire Foxes: Mark Pettini (C), Farhaan Behardien, Michael Burgess, Mark Cosgrove, Cameron Delport, Neil Dexter, Lewis Hill, Paul Horton, Clint McKay, Jigar Naik, Kevin O’Brien, Ben Raine, Rob Taylor, Luke Wells
Derbyshire Falcons: Wes Durston (C), Neil Broom, Andy Carter, Matt Critchley, Harvey Hosein (WK), Alex Hughes, Chesney Hughes, Wayne Madsen, Tom Milnes, Jimmy Neesham, Hamish Rutherford, Ben Slator, Shiv Thakor
Leicestershire Foxes: LWLALL
Derbyshire Falcons: LLWLWA
Weather and Conditions
The Weather looks set fair for the evening, if a little chilly, so if you are heading to Leicester for the game, wrap up warm.
Date: Friday 8th July 2016
Ground: The Fischer County Ground, Grace Road, Leicester
Umpires: Paul Baldwin and Nigel Llong
Odds (SkyBet): Leicestershire Foxes 10/11, Derbyshire Falcons 10/11