Cricket: County close in on Niall O'Brien
Leicestershire have moved a step closer to signing wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O'Brien from neighbours Northamptonshire.
County have been in negotiations with the Ireland international for the past few weeks since Northants gave the 30-year-old permission to speak to other clubs, even though he has a year remaining on his contract at Wantage Road.
County chief executive Mike Siddall said those talks had been "productive" and is hopeful that a final decision can be arrived at in the next couple of weeks.
O'Brien is currently out of the country as he is part of an MCC squad which is undertaking a 12-day tour to Tanzania.
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Leicestershire have a place available on their staff for another wicketkeeper after Paul Dixey was released at the end of last season.
Ned Eckersley wore the gloves for the bulk of the 2012 season and, although he would face competition from O'Brien, there is no doubt that the Irishman would add much-needed strength to the County batting line-up in all formats of the game.
In 110 first-class games, he has scored 5,317 runs and averages 36. So far he has made 11 centuries, while he has held on to 300 catches.
O'Brien is also an experienced one-day player, having featured in 51 international matches for Ireland, as well as 20 T20 games for his country – most recently at the World T20 in Sri Lanka.
Leicestershire have recent experience of O'Brien's fighting qualities as an opening batsman.
He scored 70 and 79 in the drawn game between the East Midlands rivals at Northampton in August.
Malcolm Ashton is the guest speaker at Leicestershire Cricket Society's meeting on Thursday.
Ashton is the former England scorer, who now holds that role on BBC radio's Test Match Special programme.
The event takes place in the Charles Palmer Suite, at Grace Road, starting at 7.30pm.