As Derbyshire walk through the gates of The Upton Steel County ground or Grace Road as most of us still call it, they will be greeted by a side and organisation which is not just brimming with confidence but oozing it from every pore by the boat load and why wouldn’t they be? It is not every day you beat the pre season title favourites by chasing down 389 inside 87 overs with three wickets in hand and well and truly throw a fox amongst the pigeons!
The architects of that victory were overseas signing Peter Handscomb with a first innings century and unbeaten 68 in the second along with four dismissals as keeper, Colin Ackermann with half centuries in both innings, Rehan Ahmed with 95 runs across both innings and four wickets and an opening bowling pair of Chris Wright and Mike Finan sharing nine wickets. It was a true team performance and one which all members of the side can be proud of and one which they will be hoping to replicate this week against Derbyshire.
Derbyshire on the other hand arrive on the back of a chastening defeat to Worcestershire by eight wickets, dampening the pre season enthusiasm emanating from the Incora County Ground. Mickey Arthur has declared his disappointment in post match interviews and has urged his side to be more ruthless across all three facets of the game and has also promised changes to the side. Expect the changes to come in the bowling department with the attack last week appearing a bit “samey” with five right arm seamers. They may look to bring in either left arm seamer Luis Reece or left arm spinner Mark Watt.
The defeat to Worcestershire did bring about the return to form of former skipper Billy Godleman who has struggled over the last two seasons, but last week scored half centuries in both innings and looked back to his free flowing attacking best.
It will be interesting to see if the Leicestershire boat load of confidence continues to sail or if Derbyshire can be the ruthless side that their coach wants them to be. Either way it should be an exciting and intriguing fixture in Leicester this week.
Has there been a faster and more meteoric rise in the game than Rehan Ahmed? At the start of last season many had maybe not heard of him, since then an England debut has ensued and he is now key to Leicestershire’s chances. Although primarily known for his spin bowling he is also an excellent batter – shown by his contribution versus Yorkshire where he scored 85 in the first innings, sharing a century partnership with overseas star Peter Handscomb. He also took four wickets across the two innings and Leicestershire will be hoping he can contribute and guide them to victory again.
Much of Derbyshire’s improvement last season was down to the contributions from the departed Masood, Brooke Guest and Anuj Dal. In last week’s defeat neither of the remaining players made a significant impact so Derbyshire will be hoping that Anuj Dal can bring his form from last season to 2023. His success came batting at seven in the order, scoring nearly 1000 runs, and bowling normally first change, taking 34 wickets in First Class cricket. If he can produce form which can see him achieve similar again then Derbyshire’s chances will improve greatly.
It takes a brave coach to change a winning side, especially one that won so handsomely as versus Yorkshire, however Callum Parkinson may well be fit after missing the Yorkshire game. Matthew Salisbury was tipped to miss the Yorkshire game yet played. Could two games in a week maybe too much for his injured calf? A replacement my need to be brought in.
Leicestershire squad: (tbc)
Expect changes in the Derbyshire Eleven if not the squad. Left arm spinner Mark Watt looks set to come into the side in place of one of the seamers, the other change that may happen is Luis Reece coming in to give added variation to the bowling line up. The batting line up should play as per their previous match, last minute injuries notwithstanding.
Derbyshire squad (tbc)
Weather and Conditions
If you are heading to Leicester for this match then days one, three and four are forecast the best weather, with rain predicted on day two and maybe a smidgen on day one in the afternoon too. This will be the first match played at Leicester HQ this season so the pitches are an unknown, however there has been plenty of rain about so there may be a bit of green on the track.
Date: 13th —16th April 2022
Time: 11.00 am
Ground: Upton Steel County Ground, Leicester