It’s not often in cricket that a match between Leicestershire vs Derbyshire is described as a top of the table clash, but that is just what this one is. Yes it is only after one match, but in this truncated season we are twenty percent of the way through the fixtures ,and both sides are unbeaten with just two points separating them.
In the first round of matches, both sides completed impressive run chases to secure victories over supposedly bigger counties. Leicestershire chased down 150 in 15.4 overs to beat Lancashire on the last afternoon. Derbyshire chased a club record 365 to beat Nottinghamshire off the penultimate ball of the final session.
Leicestershire are blossoming under the leadership of Paul Nixon and newly appointed captain Colin Ackerman. They seem reinvigorated, and are playing exciting and free flowing cricket.
There was never any doubt the Foxes would try to chase the 150 runs they required in just 17 overs. In the past they may have shut up shop and taken the draw, but not the new Leicestershire. Instead, they played with freedom, and scored quickly and with abandon.
Like Leicestershire, Derbyshire are still bedding in under a coaching set up that has been in place for little over a season, and the Dave Houghton and Steve Kirby effect is there to be seen. In previous seasons, a target of 365 would have seen Derbyshire crumble. Not this side. They paced the chase beautifully and, even when a few wickets fell, they maintained a level of confidence in the chase that has not been seen in a Derbyshire side for a long time.
There will be a familiar feel for Derbyshire in playing Leicestershire, with potentially four former players lining up against them. Ben Slater, Tom Taylor, Callum Parkinson and Will Davis are all former Falcons and three of them were part of the victory over Lancashire. All have done well since leaving Derbyshire and will be looking to make an impression on their former employer.
The bookies cannot separate the sides and both will be wanting to back up their impressive first round victories, and cement their place at the top of the Northern Group and push for a place in the final. Sadly, the weather may be the winner and the match may turn into a battle for bonus points on the first two days.
Whenever you are captain you have to feel you’re worth your place in the side and not that you’re getting picked just because you are captain. That’s no issue with Leicestershire captain Colin Ackerman. He bats 3 or 4 in the order and contributes big runs – 167 across the two innings against Lancashire and at a good pace, too.
He also bowls more than useful off spin, taking two wickets last time and has best bowling figures of 7 for 18 in T20 cricket. Ackerman is the full package for Leicestershire and when he performs well, Leicestershire’s chances of victory increase no end.
Legend is a term banded around far too freely these days, but for Derbyshire the term is correctly applied to Wayne Madsen. His record of 12,000 first class runs, which he achieved in the last match, is impressive by anyone’s standards, but in a side that has not been the most successful it’s even more impressive.
He bats at three and is a rock that many Derbyshire innings are built around; he missed out in the previous game with a duck and 43 in the second innings and normally, when that happens, he follows it up with big runs. Madsen can also offer better than occasional off spin and, if Derbyshire make a change to the side’s balance and play another batsman at the expense of a spinner, his bowling may be required. Last, but not least, he has a great pair of hands. Madsen is an icon for the club and, more often than not, when he succeeds, the club succeeds.
Leicestershire will be reluctant to change a winning side, although recent loan signing James Weighell will be available to play. Weighell will be looking to impress, as he has been told his contract will not be renewed by Durham.
Leicestershire’s other loan signing, Ben Slater, will also be available and will want to back up his impressive 172 and, will his loan deal set to expire after this match, show that he deserves a place at Trent Bridge.
Lewis hill, who missed the first game with a metacarpal injury, remains sidelined until at least the end of August. Arron Lilley has been rested, bringing Gavin Griffiths and Sam Evans in to the squad.
Leicestershire Squad: Hassan Azad, Ben Slater, Harry Dearden, Colin Ackermann (C), George Rhodes, Harry Swindells (wk), Tom Taylor, Ben Mike, Callum Parkinson, Gavin Griffiths, Dieter Klein, Will Davis, Chris Wright and Sam Evans
Derbyshire are likely to go into the game with a very similar squad as to the previous outing. Fynn Hudson-Prentice batted with a runner in the first innings, and did not take the field in the second innings, so he misses out this week. Duston Melton and new loan signing, Ed Barnes, come in to the side.
Derbyshire Squad: Billy Godleman (c), Luis Reece, Wayne Madsen, Leus du Plooy, Harvey Hosein (wk), Alex Hughes, Matt Critchley, Anuj Dal, Sam Conners, Michael Cohen, Dustin Melton, Mattie McKiernan, Ed Barnes
Weather and Conditions
The first two days look the best for cricket and it may be a case of making hay while the sun shines, with rain, thunder and lightening forecast for Monday and Tuesday. Play could be patchy and first innings points vital, so making the most use of the allotted 120 overs will be key. This will be the first game at the Fischer County Ground this season, so there is no precedent for how the pitches are playing, but with the delayed start to the season, there is no excuse for a poor wicket.
Dates : 8th to 11th August
Time : 11am
Ground : Fischer County Ground, Leicester
Match Odds (Sky Bet): Leicestershire 10/11 Derbyshire 10/11