Foxes face toughest challenge
The Leicestershire Foxes' first away match of the Twenty20 campaign bears all the hallmarks of their toughest assignment, whatever else might lie ahead.
They make the short trip to Trent Bridge this evening, weather permitting, to face the Nottinghamshire Outlaws, the side they beat at the same venue last August to lift the Cup for a second time.
Many judges believe the Outlaws can go one step further this time. And wins over Derbyshire and Lancashire in the first two outings of the season have made them early pace-setters in the North division.
The Foxes will be determined to slow them down, having enjoyed profitable times against their neighbours.
They have lost only one of seven Twenty20 encounters between the sides.
Senior coach Tim Boon knows, though, that the Foxes will have to be at the peak of their form if they are to extend that record tonight.
"I saw (Notts captain) Stephen Fleming talking after their win against Lancashire on Saturday,'' said Boon.
"He said that their run last year had given them self-belief. This year they understand why they are doing things.
"They have obviously done their homework and put a lot of thought into Twenty20 cricket.
"For that reason they have some very well rehearsed plans and preparation for different situations. It will be a good game of cricket.''
The Foxes have already tasted the strength in depth Notts have in their batting.
The Outlaws won the Friends Provident Trophy clash between the sides at Oakham School earlier in the month when Fleming hit a stylish century.
Samit Patel is in form, as his match-winning performance in scoring an unbeaten 84 against Lancashire demonstrated on Saturday.
And, in David Hussey, Mark Ealham and Chris Read, they have some potentially explosive hitters.
Their bowling is weakened, however, by the absence of Ryan Sidebottom.
The left-arm seamer is on England duty alongside Leicestershire's Stuart Broad, who is likely to be replaced in the Foxes' line-up tonight by Nick Walker.
Boon has no fitness worries but says he has yet to finalise his side.
"We will be having a look at the pitch before the game and see if we are going to include an extra spinner,'' he said.
Spin has been crucial to Leicestershire's success since the inception of 20-over cricket in 2003.
Claude Henderson and Jeremy Snape maintained that theme by playing vital roles in Friday's opening-night win over Yorkshire Phoenix at Grace Road.
Young wrist-spinner Mansoor Amjad, who did not figure in Friday's clash, is the other option in the slow-bowling department.