By Paul Nixon
THE lads and I have been asked on a number of occasions already this season what the secret is to our success at Leicestershire.
Remember, this was a Leicestershire side that hadn’t won a County Championship game since 2016 before the start of this season. Now we lie third in the division two table having won three.
There are many factors to this turn- around. Every club needs a vision, a plan, in which to succeed and must create a culture within itself with each player having full clarity of their individual and collective roles.
Coaches must know their players on a deeper level and at Leicestershire we are lucky to have an excellent coaching staff, from John Sadler, our assistant coach, Matt Mason, the bowling coach, Tom Smith, the second eleven coach, and Carl Crowe, our spin bowling coach. All are real students of the game with no egos and who care deeply for the players they work with and the club.
Naturally, after such a promising start to the season, players will be confident but it’s important we keep our feet on the ground and just concentrate on the next match.
Being third in the table, there will be talk of promotion among the players and I’m not going to discourage that to be honest. If they are thinking and talking about it, then it must mean they believe it and, as coach, that’s half the job.
It’s important also to have a happy dressing room and that’s something we are very proud of in the Foxes family. Right now, the lads have got a World Cup predictions sweepstake going on with some pretty steep forfeits awaiting the losers.
I won’t say any more except to say don’t be surprised to see a few shaved heads taking to the field in Foxes colours over the next couple of weeks!
We’re making progress but we know we are not the real deal yet. There is still room for improvement. We know, with a bit of game management, we could have won both of the games we lost, against Durham and Middlesex. In the Middlesex game, we dropped four catches before they held on for a one-wicket win. It’s situations like that where we need to be a bit cuter and more ruthless at times, but that will come with experience.
Another bit of good news last week was Colin Ackermann signing an extension to his contract, which keeps him at Grace Road at least until the end of the 2020 season.
Colin is an extremely popular guy in the dressing room, always prominent in the group chats and has the respect of all the players. Not only that, he’s playing absolutely beautifully right now and has been a key part of our successful season to date.
As it stands, Colin is the leading run scorer in the County Championship division two with 689 runs from ten innings. He’s a class act.
Colin will also captain the side for our Vitality Blast campaign – and led us to a four-wicket win over Northamptonshire Steelbacks on Wednesday night with a fine unbeaten 66 from 31 balls.
While I know Colin will prove an excellent captain, it was tough on Paul Horton, who is up against some big competition for a first-team place in white-ball cricket.