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T20: Leicestershire Foxes ready to cause some hurt

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It is pretty certain that Leicestershire Foxes will not be one of the fancied sides as the Friends Life T20 competition gets into swing.

The Foxes have lifted the trophy on three occasions to date, more than any other side, but remain the firmest of underdogs.

Maybe that is not such a surprise given that they have the toughest of jobs just to get out of their group to qualify for the quarter-finals.

"I always think the North Group is a very tough section," said head coach Phil Whitticase, whose side launch their campaign this evening against Nottingham Outlaws at Trent Bridge (6.0).

"Apart from ourselves, we've got Lancashire, Yorkshire, Durham and Notts – and Derbyshire look as though they will be a good side this year. There are no easy games."

The Foxes struggled last year as they set about defending the trophy they won in 2011, and Whitticase feels that was always going to be a tough task with top performers such as Andrew McDonald, Paul Nixon and James Taylor all having departed Grace Road.

"We lost six players from the 2011 side, so it was always going to be difficult to replace them all in that space of time," he said.

"But the players we have are another year on now, and we have made two good overseas signings in Joe Burns and Shakib Al Hasan, while Niall O'Brien will give us that dynamic approach up front alongside Josh Cobb."

Burns and Shakib also bring a winning mentality with them.

Burns starred as Brisbane won Australia's KFC Big Bash earlier this year, while Shakib played alongside Cobb for Dhaka Gladiators as they triumphed in the Bangladesh Premier League just before the start of the English season.

"I think we have got players who can hurt other sides," said Whitticase.

"Previous experience shows us that we have done well when we have taken wickets up front, so that is something that we have to get right."

In the past, the likes of pacemen Mark Cleary, Stuart Broad and Harry Gurney have taken those top-order wickets to put opponents on the back foot, and Leicestershire now need Nathan Buck, Rob Taylor, Anthony Ireland or Robbie Williams to adopt that role.

Elsewhere, the bowling looks solid with three spinners in the shape of Cobb, Shakib and Jigar Naik.

However, T20 remains wildly unpredictable, which is part of its undeniable attraction.

"It is the kind of competition where if you get on a roll and find momentum, then things can happen – as we found out in 2011," said Whitticase.

"The players are looking forward to it. They enjoy the format and the buzz that goes with it. But we have to get on a roll straight away."

The Foxes play their first home game tomorrow when Derbyshire are the visitors to Grace Road (2.40).

The Falcons have shown their intent by adding South African star Albie Morkel to their T20 squad this season.

T20: Leicestershire Foxes ready to cause some hurt


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