Leicestershire CCC Head Coach Paul Nixon was proud of his charges after completing a Specsavers County Championship win inside two days at Kent CCC yesterday.
Sunday’s game at the St Lawrence Ground came just hours after an impressive Vitality Blast victory at Notts Outlaws on Friday night, but the players recovered well and made a brilliant return to red ball cricket.
The Foxes are in decent shape in both competitions, just ten points off second-placed Sussex CCC in the Championship, and joint fourth in T20 having won half of their six fixtures to date.
Nixon said: “The guys adapted well from white ball to red ball, and had to work hard on a pitch that was made slightly softer by the rain during Kent’s T20 game here on Friday. It was tough for the groundsmen, but they produced a good pitch.
“It was the right decision to bowl first and the way the guys bowled to build pressure was great to see. We held most of our catches, mainly through Ned Eckersley, who took eight in the game, and then went on to excel with the bat. His 74 on that pitch from 169 balls was as good an innings as we’ve had for Leicestershire this year.
“We had to have a substantial lead because we had worked so hard in the first innings with the ball. We knew we had to make light work of our second innings because Kent were going to come back strong and the pitch was always going to dry out.
Nixon was pleased with the whole side, but reserved special praise for overseas star Muhammad Abbas and young batsman Harry Dearden, who posted an impressive unbeaten half-century to guide the side home alongside captain Paul Horton.
Abbas claimed match figures of five for 72 in 25.2 overs, taking his season tally to 22 at just 22.18 apiece, and Nixon is delighted with the way that he has fitted in to life at the club.
He said: “The lads were up in the dressing rooms dancing in tribute to Mo [Muhammad] Abbas and they thoroughly deserve it because we’ve proved to the opposition that we wanted this win.
“He’s a great man and his spell after tea was magnificent, Mo really lifted his game and got some good players out. His areas are magnificent; he bowls brave lengths without getting driven.
“The questions that Mo asks all of the time, testing the outside edge but also bringing lbw and bowled into play, are world-class. The way Zak Chappell bowled was great too and the young bowlers are all learning from him, which is key.
“Horts [Paul Horton] and young Harry [Dearden] played well, Harry stood up and was counted. He got hit on the head against Derbyshire CCC and couldn’t carry on, which was unfortunate, but he came out and played some beautiful shots here.”
Leicestershire CCC will not get carried away with the last couple of results, but instead use the momentum and keep looking to improve in both competitions.
“There is great communication and partnerships on and off the field, our guys are very open when it comes to improvement,” said Nixon. “Our bowlers have come to the forefront, but times get tough now, and it’s time to look after them.
“It’s an old cliché, I know, but it’s one game at a time. The atmosphere is good, it’s a hardworking, caring environment, which is what it’s all about.
“The lads have embraced everything asked for them, and the coaches have worked really hard to support them. We’re always looking to improve, which is crucial, and every question we ask, they come up with answers. We now put the red ball back away for a few weeks and we’ll be back in on Wednesday preparing for T20 again.
“It’s another big game against Derbyshire, as they all will be in T20 from now on. Three wins from six is a decent start but we need to build on it now. We’re entering a crucial phase, and I know our Members and supporters will get behind us for a big night at the Fischer County Ground on Friday.”