Lewis Hill believes Vitality Blast momentum will see Leicestershire to a strong start
Lewis Hill believes momentum gained in the Vitality Blast should help Leicestershire make a strong start to this season's Royal London Cup.
Leicestershire, who start the 50-over competition against Surrey in Guildford, know it is their last chance of silverware in what has been another tough season.
But skipper Hill reckons winning their final five games in the Blast, and especially how those matches were won, means the Foxes will take plenty of confidence into the one-day cup.
“Things haven't gone our way in red ball cricket so far, but when it comes to the white ball we have momentum, and maybe more important, we know why we won those five games on the bounce,” said the Lutterworth batsman.
“Everyone knew their roles, everyone understood what was expected of them, and that's what I've been trying to get across in the build-up to the Royal London.
“We also recognise it's a short tournament, just eight games, so if you don't start well it's very hard to recover – lose a couple early and it's hard to make it to the final.”
Hill acknowledges the loss of four key players to franchises playing in The Hundred over the next month means the first-team squad has a different look, but insists it is not necessarily weaker as a result.
“Our bowling settled into a really good unit in the T20, but obviously Colin Ackermann, Callum Parkinson, Rehan Ahmed and Ben Mike have gone to the Hundred, and [overseas] pace bowler Naveen ul-Haq isn't around.
“But we have a good bowling group, not just three or four bowlers. [South Africa overseas seamer] Beuran Hendricks is back and he feels he has a point to prove. I thought he was very unlucky in his first championship games, he often bowled well but nicks didn't go to hand, and he's so eager to show Leicestershire supporters what he's capable of doing.
“And though we're without our senior spinners, young off-spinner Nat Bowley has been bowling really well in the Seconds and has been waiting for this chance. If we need more spin, Arron Lilley and Scott Steel can also be very effective.”
Even so, there is no doubt the Foxes will be looking to the batting 'unit' to give their bowlers plenty of runs in hand, and in that respect Hill believes Leicestershire's other overseas South African, Wiaan Mulder, could be the star of the competition.
The international all-rounder has found spectacular form with the bat, especially in the championship, following a maiden double century against Sussex at Hove with 156 and 59 in the defeat by Glamorgan.
“It maybe took Wiaan a few games to get used to the conditions over here, but he's now playing fantastically well with both bat and ball,” said Hill. “He looks every inch the international he is, with red ball and white, and he'll be huge for us in this competition.
“We came so close to qualifying last year, and we remember how we beat Surrey after it looked as though the game was slipping away, by taking three late wickets. They'll be a challenge down there, but they've lost players to the Hundred too. Our aim is to win this competition and I believe we've got a serious chance of doing just that.”
In terms of their 50-over line-up, Leicestershire showed their hand in Sunday's rain-shortened warm-up match against Staffordshire, with Nick Welch and Rishi Patel opening, and with Louis Kimber and Hill at three and four. A middle order of Lilley, Mulder, wicket-keeper Harry Swindells and Steel preceded Tom Scriven, Chris Wright and Hendricks. The four-wicket win saw Kimber top score with 41 as the Foxes chased down a target of 179-7 with eight balls to spare.