Hoggard hails season high
Captain Matthew Hoggard admits Leicestershire's Friends Life t20 triumph has rescued an otherwise dire season.
Hoggard’s side shocked favourites Somerset by 18 runs under the Edgbaston floodlights on Saturday night.
Although that represents Leicestershire’s third domestic t20 title and no other side has won more than one, they have had little else to cheer this year.
Rooted to the foot of the LV= County Championship, having not won since the opening round, they will finish bottom of Clydesdale Bank 40 Group B if Scotland avoid defeat to Hampshire today.
The Foxes, who have completed their CB40 schedule, host India in a t20 contest at Grace Road today, a useful warm-up for the Champions League Twenty20 qualifier they earned a place in on Saturday.
Trinidad & Tobago and Ruhunu, from Sri Lanka, will be their opponents in Hyderabad on September 20 and 21 respectively, with the winners and best runners-up from the two pools going into the main competition, also in India, from September 23.
Despite the prospect of such an exciting trip, Hoggard knows there is much to be done before, including a championship clash with Middlesex from Tuesday.
“There will be a lot of planning. I think we have to leave on the 16th September and we’ve got our players awards on the 15th, so we’ve got a quick change-around,” he said.
“From here, we’ve got India on Monday and we go down to Lord’s on Tuesday and start a game, so there’s a lot of cricket to play in our season.
“We’ve been pretty dire, apart from the t20 campaign, but we’ve rescued it.”
A key player Hoggard hopes to have at his disposal in India is batsman Will Jefferson, who hammered two fours and a six in a one-over eliminator to seal semi-final victory over Lancashire.
Jefferson’s 35 was the joint top score in the final, but he did not take the field in Somerset’s innings due to an injury that his skipper explained.
“He tweaked his Achilles,” Hoggard revealed. “He was trying to run with Abdul Razzaq, which didn’t go too well.
“He slipped in the middle of the wicket. He could have broken his ankle, but he just tweaked his Achilles.”
Razzaq opened the batting in the final in place of Andrew McDonald, a curious move given McDonald had plundered 570 runs from the top of the order to be the competition’s leading scorer – a position he maintained despite a stodgy 14 from number six.
Hoggard also cleared up that matter, explaining: “Razzer was a little concerned about the lights and seeing it under the lights, so rather than get a none too pleased Abdul Razzaq we let him open the batting.”
Although Jefferson is now a concern for next month’s games, Leicestershire were not hurt by his absence in the field as substitute Matthew Boyce held four catches on the midwicket boundary, all off part-time spinner Josh Cobb, who took 4-22.
Hoggard praised Boyce, Cobb and veteran spinner Claude Henderson, whose four wicketless overs cost a mere 11 runs.
“I thought Matthew Boyce as well did fantastically with his catching,” he said.
“Cobby was fantastic. Obviously you expect it from Claude Henderson but expectation is nothing, you have still got to deliver.”
Hoggard also lauded wicketkeeper Paul Nixon, who crowned his last senior domestic appearance with a diving right-handed catch to dismiss Kieron Pollard.
“They say every fairytale needs a sprinkling of magic and that was the sprinkling of magic, that he managed to dive full-length and take that catch,” Hoggard added. “He showed that there’s still life in the old dog and he was superb.”