A season for Leicestershire that had so much promise, buoyed by the recruitment of experienced county pros over the Winter in the form of Neil Dexter, Mark Pettini and Paul Horton, never really achieved the heights they were hoping for.
Ending the year 7th in the Specsavers County Championship, their best finish since they achieved the same position in 2012, saw improvement for a team who had finished bottom for the last three seasons. Yet players will probably feel they left a fair few points out on the field.
They recorded six draws that, if they could have converted a few of these draws, would have seen them competing in the top three of the division. If the first class game saw an improvement for Leicestershire, then white ball cricket saw a season which will not live long in the memory for the club’s supporters. Having finished bottom of the group in both competitions, said supporters will want to quickly forget. The white ball side is a long way from the one that won the T20 trophy in 2004, 2006 and 2011.
If the club is to see a turnaround in 2017, then it will be under a new coaching set up. Australian Andrew McDonald returning to his homeland for family reasons and has been replaced by Pierre de Bruyn, who has been working for the club this season as Second XI and assistant skills coach. De Bruyn will be joined by ex Derbyshire Elite Performance Director Graeme Welch, who will be hoping to develop the club’s bowlers.
Clint McKay and Charlie Shreck, neither of whom are getting any younger but took 100 wickets between them, will be looking for some young bowlers to help out their aging limbs. This is where the signing of Welch could prove most important.
If Shreck and McKay’s limbs were impressive with ball in hand the side’s recruitment policy, which saw them bring in established county pros, saw some more aging limbs in the batting line up who also did well. With Horton, Dexter and Pettini scoring over 2500 runs between them, coupled with Angus Robson’s 700 runs, they had the runs and wickets to have achieved more in the Championship than they did.
LVCC: 7th, Division Two
T20 Blast: 9th, Northern Group
RLODC: 8th, Group
SSCC: Mark Cosgrove 1279 @ 49.19; T20 Blast: Mark Pettini 331 @ 30.09; RLODC: Kevin O’Brien 203 @ 50.75
SSCC: Clint McKay 56 @ 22.50; T20 Blast: Clint McKay 13 @ 20.54 Econ 6.31; RLODC: Rob Taylor 5 @ 18.80 Econ 5.88
Win %: 26.32%
Player of the Season: Mark Cosgrove
Over 1000 runs in FC Cricket, Cosgrove is a player who inspires every player up and down the country, that doesn’t have the perfect and stereotypical physique, to think they can still make it. Throw in 488 runs in white ball cricket and a handful of wickets and the choice of player of the season for Leicestershire is an easy one.
Could have done better: Angus Robson
Robson will have been disappointed with his return this year, failing to reach 1000 FC runs for the first time in three seasons. He was outscored by Cosgrove, Horton and Dexter in a season when, if he had had another successful season, may have been knocking on the England door.
Need to work on
Leicestershire need to work on pushing winning situations over the line, taking that final wicket, or scoring those last few runs. They must also find the white ball form that saw them lifting the T20 trophy in previous years, and creating great memories again for their fans.
An off season of change as a new coaching set up comes into place, with Pierre de Bruyn and Graeme Welch taking over from Andrew McDonald. They will also be looking for some young seamers to come through to support McKay and Shreck, who cannot go on forever.
This season was a season of slight improvement in First Class Cricket, winning four games and threatening to win others. Nevertheless, it was also a season of disappointment in white ball cricket.