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De Bruyn to promote youth in Leicestershire shake-up

Pierre de Bruyn described Angus Robson's returns in 2016 as "poor" Getty Images

Pierre de Bruyn has warned his Leicestershire players that complacency will not be tolerated under his leadership.

De Bruyn has ruffled a few feathers at Grace Road since his appointment as the county's new head coach following the departure of Andrew McDonald at the end of 2016 season. But he is unapologetic about challenging attitudes at a club he feels has been coasting for too long and said he is prepared to deal with some unhappy senior pros as a consequence of producing more opportunities for younger players.

"The club has underperformed massively," de Bruyn said. "The fact is, we've been at the bottom of the Championship for a few years and, though we showed some signs of improvement in red-ball cricket, we've been very poor in white-ball cricket. We can't accept that. It's time to take a look at ourselves. We owe the supporters better.

"If we are serious about taking the club forward, we are going to have to have some tough conversations. If any of the senior players are complacent, I don't mind challenging them and I don't mind putting myself under pressure.

"If you have a squad of 25 players, more than half will not be playing and that means that some of them will be unhappy. But I want to focus on this club producing England players again and, in the likes of Zak Chappell and Ned Eckersley, we have guys with the talent to do that. We can't be accepting batsmen averaging in the mid-20s any more."

That would appear to be a reference to Angus Robson. He was the club's highest Championship run-scorer in 2014 and second highest in 2015, but endured a tougher 2016, averaging 27.11 with a top score of 84. As a consequence, it seems he can no longer be assured of his place.

"I don't blame him if he feels his position is under threat," de Bruyn said. "We have a big squad and competition is fierce. He has played more than 50 games and only made two centuries. He has had more than fair opportunity and there's no doubt he had a poor season. Averaging 27 in Division Two is not getting us promoted. I told him to go away and focus on making hundreds. I hope it drives him to work harder. I hope he comes back motivated and ruthless.

"But it's not just him. Our top order - the likes of Paul Horton and Mark Pettini - failed to score the runs we needed in limited-overs cricket and we need to do better.

"I am keen to create opportunities for younger players. Lewis Hill made a century at The Oval a couple of years ago [in his second first-class game], Harry Dearden is young and promising and we've signed Callum Parkinson, who is another who could go a long way in the game.

"Senior players will be treated fairly and respectfully, but places are up for grabs and that's exciting."

Leicestershire's first-class performances actually improved in 2016. After three successive seasons in which they had finished bottom in Division Two, they rose to seventh (and, but for a late season slide, it could have been better), though they continued to struggled in the shorter formats. They were bottom of the North Group on the NatWest T20 Blast and second from bottom of the North Group in the Royal London Cup.