Robson departs in turbulent start to de Bruyn reign
Angus Robson has been granted an immediate release from his Leicestershire contract after being at odds with the new coach Pierre de Bruyn
Angus Robson has been granted an immediate release from his Leicestershire contract after concluding that his relationship with the club has broken down.
Robson, a key figure in the side under previous coach Andrew McDonald, has requested his release in pursue his career elsewhere. He is not thought to have a deal with another club at this stage.
Robson, aged 25 and a fixture in the Championship side over the last three seasons, had appeared to be a pillar on which a new Leicestershire side could be built. While he has scored only two centuries in 53 first-class games, nobody in either division of the County Championship has reached 50 more often (28 times; Marcus Trescothick has recorded the same number over that period) over the last three seasons. He has been out four times in the 90s in first-class cricket.
But he has been unable to build a relationship with the club's new director of cricket, Pierre de Bruyn. De Bruyn made it clear over the winter that Robson's place in the side was in doubt and has preferred 19-year-old Harry Dearden and 34-year-old Paul Horton at the top of the order at the start of the season.
Robson has sensed he was "on the outer," as he puts it, and decided to build a new future at a club where he feels he will have more chance of progression. Robson's contract was due to expire at the end of the season.
It is a brave decision. The market for solid, red ball players is not vibrant at present - Jaik Mickleburgh is another fine player who finds himself without a first-class county at present - and some would have been content to sit in the seconds, accept their salary and wait for another opportunity. But not Robson.
"I need to be playing," he told ESPNcricinfo. "I'm an ambitious player and I feel I'm good enough. I realise I've not scored enough hundreds, but nobody has scored more 50-plus scores and I feel my career will best be served with a fresh start elsewhere.
"Over the years Leicestershire have been very good to me and I thank them for the opportunities. But the relationship has broken down of late so I went to the club and asked for my contract to be terminated. I'm very disappointed by the way it's ended, but I have a lot of friends in that dressing room and I'll be wishing them well in the future.
"Yes, some people would sit in, but I'm not that sort of player and not that sort of man. I don't want to waste time in my career and I feel that to give myself the best chance of having the career I want, now is the time to accept a new challenge. I've nothing specific organised right now, but I'm pretty confident something will come along."
Leicestershire's chief executive Wasim Khan said. "We are disappointed to lose Angus at this stage of the season but we have a big squad and fully understand that he wants to have an opportunity to start a new cricketing chapter in his life. We thank Angus for his contribution over the last four years and wish him well for the rest of his career."
The episode sustains a turbulent start to de Bruyn's career with the club. His determination not to accept the mediocrity that has characterised much of Leicestershire's cricket over recent seasons is admirable, but there does seem to be something of a culture clash between his intense approach and the more relaxed attitude of his predecessor, McDonald.
And, while there will be respect for de Bruyn's decision to grant more opportunities to young players and there should be some acceptance that such a tactic will take time to bear fruit, the fact that Leicestershire were bowled out for 81 in the second innings of their opening Championship match against a very strong Nottinghamshire attack and penalised 16 points for disciplinary issues will provide his critics with ammunition.
"It's not been ideal," de Bruyn told ESPNcricinfo. "I'm shocked and disappointed that Angus has gone. He was next in line and he leaves a big gap in the squad. His agent first approached us about five months ago and asked if they could look elsewhere, so I presume they have now found something.
"But we are at the bottom of county cricket and things needed to change. We were averaging something like 14 for 2 in terms of our starts at home in the Championship last season, so I wanted to encourage healthy competition in the squad and provide opportunities for young players.
"We've raised the bar this season and everyone has brought in. We're a solid, happy club and, over the next three years, you'll see progress.
"As for the 16-point penalty, it was a massive blow. I largely consider that something I inherited but what can you do? It's happened and we move on. It may take some time to build the culture we want at Leicestershire, but we're heading in the right direction and I'm excited by the challenge."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo