Leicestershire CCC determined to end poor season on a high note
The curtain comes down on the first-class season this week as Leicestershire host Gloucestershire in a four-day game at Grace Road starting today (10.30am).
The appalling weather has made this the most difficult of seasons in which to judge teams and individuals.
But while County again sit in the lower reaches of the table, and could even take a second consecutive wooden spoon, there is reason for cautious optimism if one or two areas can be addressed during the winter.
County have shown that they can dig in when they bat, but they desperately need some solidity at the top of the order to replace the retired Will Jefferson, whose presence has been massively missed this summer.
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And they need penetration with the new ball, too, something that they have struggled with after both Matthew Hoggard and Nathan Buck suffered injuries early in the season.
Those issues are for a later date. During the next four days, it is a case of concentrating on taking a third win of the season against a Gloucestershire side who were lifted by their convincing victory against Northamptonshire at Bristol last week.
Liam Norwell's match figures of 8-74 were decisive in a low-scoring affair dominated by seam bowlers.
County head coach Phil Whitticase has named a 14-man squad, although leading run-scorer Ramnaresh Sarwan misses out as the West Indian has had to return home to attend to personal matters.
Greg Smith is back in the frame, though, after his century in the Second Team Championship final last week.
"Greg has struggled all year to find that kind of performance," said Whitticase.
"When he gets himself in, it is a case of curbing some of his natural aggression, batting time and applying himself. He did that last week and we will be looking for that again."
There is more emphasis on spin in the bowling attack with Claude Henderson, Jigar Naik and James Sykes all included, suggesting the pitch may not be quite as green as it has been for the last couple of matches.
Last time out, County were beaten by Kent. However, the game before that saw them get the better of a strong Hampshire side in style – and that is the manner in which Whitticase would like to see his side round off the summer.
"When you look back at the Hampshire game it was a rounded performance," he said. "If we can bat first and build pressure on the opposition, that is where we want to put ourselves.
"Then it is up to the bowlers to put enough balls in challenging areas to create problems."
Squad: Thornely, Smith, Eckersley, Boyce, Cobb, Thakor, White, Taylor, Naik, Henderson, Buck Hoggard, Wyatt, Sykes.