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Inside Cricket: Don't be surprised if the Foxes are a big hit in T20


It is only a fortnight until the first ball is bowled in this season's Friends Life T20 competition, and there appears to be sound evidence for Leicestershire Foxes fans to look forward to the 20-over action.

The Foxes have a proud tradition in the competition, having lifted the trophy in 2004, 2006 and 2011, so that record alone should lead to decent attendances at Grace Road.

However, what is really encouraging for 2013 is the positive way that Leicestershire have set about their white-ball cricket in the YB40 competition.

They have banked four wins from five games to date, and it is fair to assume that the confidence developed in the 40-over game will carry over to 20-over matches.

Of course, the best-laid plans can easily fall apart in the quick-fire version of the game.

But they can also work like a charm, which was pretty much the case in 2011 when the Foxes built around the talents of overseas players Andrew McDonald and Abdul Razzaq.

Joe Burns and Shakib Al Hasan carry those mantels this season and, if they both fire, Leicestershire have demonstrated in YB40 cricket this season that they have a batting line-up capable of moving the scoreboard along in a real hurry.

Josh Cobb and Niall O'Brien are both major threats at the top of the order and, with Burns, Shakib, Matthew Boyce and Shiv Thakor to follow, there is scope to set targets or chase down scores.

The emphasis on Leicestershire's bowling approach looks sure to fall on the spin bowlers, even if Claude Henderson looks unlikely to be a central on-field figure in his final season at the club.

The trio of Shakib, Cobb and Jigar Naik ought to ask plenty of questions of opposing batsmen, continuing a line of attack that Leicestershire have adopted since the first year of the competition when Jeremy Snape, Brad Hodge and Virender Sehwag all nagged away on slow pitches.

On the seam front, Leicestershire do not have the quality of a Stuart Broad or Mark Cleary to blow away top-order batters, so it will be a case of frustrating and keeping matters as tight as possible.

Rob Taylor has been the most effective County paceman in one-day cricket this season, most recently at Yorkshire on Sunday when he claimed 2-40 from his eight overs, while his batting could also come to the fore.

The left-hander showed his capabilities with the willow when he saw the Foxes home at Scarborough, making a crucial unbeaten 48 from 43 balls.

For head coach Phil Whitticase and one-day skipper Cobb, it is a case of getting the right players into the right roles.

"We've been looking at 2011 when we were successful and what we did in those games," said Whitticase.

"That year, Josh and Macca were very good up front, with Will Jefferson coming in behind them.

"So we have to look at the players we have in the squad and the roles in which we can use them. Then it is a case of trying to get those plans into place."

The Foxes are unlikely to be fancied to qualify from a group which also consists of Notts, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Durham and Derbyshire.

They will not worry too much about that – it has generally been the case, anyway.

There is an intriguing blend, though, in the Foxes' ranks, and a couple of early wins might just have one or two pundits wondering if Leicestershire are about to mount another charge.

Inside Cricket: Don't be surprised if the Foxes are a big hit in T20

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