There is an air of simmering discontent around Grace Road that simply refuses to clear. It stems from the dismissal of Vince Wells as Leicestershire's captain less than a month ago, a move that was accompanied by the release of wicket-keeper Neil Burns, who last season headed the list of dismissals in Division One of the county championship and scored 720 first-class runs at an average of just over 32.

The captaincy has been offered to Wells' number two, opening batsman Iain Sutcliffe. No replacement wicket-keeper has yet been signed, but Burns' departure prompted immediate speculation that the job would be offered to Paul Nixon, who is free after parting company with Kent, where he refused a pay cut, and is close to Leicestershire's secretary/general manager James Whitaker. Whitaker himself is seeing out his contract after announcing plans to move on in August.

Several senior players have now voiced public concerns. Sutcliffe, who has not yet accepted the offer of the captaincy that goes with a three-year contract, told the Leicester Mercury: "It makes it difficult to know the position of the club with all of this instability. I don't know who is making the decisions.

"We've now got a situation where the management has failed to consult Vince or myself in important cricket decisions, and it's difficult for us to take on the role of captaincy when we don't know what the position is."

Wells claims that his dismissal as captain went against an earlier verbal agreement with the chairman of the cricket committee that he would captain Leicestershire next season. "Then, suddenly, near the end of the season I was asked to a meeting with James (Whitaker) and he said that most of the cricket committee thought I should move aside.

"I was surprised and said that if that was the case, they will have to sack me. A few days later, I received a letter saying they were offering the captaincy to Iain."

Burns, 37, was also shocked at the manner of his release from the county, which he also claimed overturned a previous verbal agreement. "Other news that has filtered out of the club has stunned me and I imagine it is a very difficult time for Vince Wells, Iain Sutcliffe and the other players," he said.

As things stand, the Leicestershire captaincy post remains unfilled while Sutcliffe considers his position. For members of the club, which remains in the first division of both the county championship and the national league after a respectable 2002 season, the future is uncertain and potentially acrimonious.