May 25, 2013

Leicestershire in need of some Heat

Overseas signing Joe Burns, from Brisbane, must be wondering what he's got himself into at Grace Road

There are times at Grace Road when you close your eyes for a moment and it seems as though you're on Craggy Island where someone has unaccountably turned on Test Match Special. Firstly there's the whistling of an Atlantic gale screeching across the ground. Then the conversation of fellow members, which is interspersed at all too regular intervals with Father Jack-style ejaculations or Boycottian "occupy the crease". To make matters worse, just when you've really worked yourself up to have a good rant at the sheer ineptitude of everything, the second innings starts with some measure of competence, lightning flashes over the Butler Stand, and the final result still reads match drawn.

Leicestershire have excelled in striking contrasts recently, the most obvious of which being James Taylor and Will Jefferson batting together. This year's offering is a comparison of the run-ups of the mercifully fit again Nathan Buck and new signing Anthony Ireland. Bucky's run-up is a thing of beauty; even gait and effortless acceleration. Ireland chokes and splutters, trying three different rhythms before arriving at the crease. It's like watching Angus Fraser line up next to Usain Bolt. As they both battled to dismiss Glamorgan, the announcement that Matthew Hoggard had taken eight wickets for the second XI sounded more like a threat than information for spectators. About the best thing that could be said was that we weren't facing Magoffin at Horsham. Ollie Freckingham continues to bowl well with the new ball and deserves to continue his development, so selection from now on will be interesting.

Ramnaresh Sarwan's departure for Cardiff to prepare for the Champions Trophy heralded the advent of Joe Burns, who must wonder what on earth he's got himself into. Some heat from Brisbane would certainly have come in handy for those trying to stave off hypothermia watching the nation's "summer" sport. In every picture of Burns on Cricinfo I can find, he's shown trying to hit the cover off the ball. We shall see how he copes in English conditions in four-day cricket, although no doubt them upstairs will be more concerned with his T20 showing.

Should we get the opportunity to complete some matches in the next month, they need to feature groundbreaking new tactics from Leicestershire. Holding catches. Not padding up. Not fending at wide stuff when we're already four down. Not bowling wide stuff when you've just kept someone successfully tied up for the rest of the over. Remembering that points are awarded in the first innings. I know it's easy for me to say from the beyond the boundary, but I wish someone would mention it occasionally on the field.

As you drive into the car park at Grace Road there are places reserved for sponsors. Next to one another, in a pleasing juxtaposition, are spaces for companies involving the words "pigsties" and "top dog"; if we don't get our act together soon, then the former is going to be very much more appropriate than the latter.

Did that sound like a rant? Then at least someone at Leicestershire's not missing an opportunity. Occupy that crease, boys, or you'll get the Father Jack version.

Tessa Cooke combines watching Leicestershire with the study of Olympians ancient and modern at Leicestershire University. Bowls off the wrong foot