Hill bidding to end Leicestershire’s 38-year wait for List A trophy in Metro Bank final against Hampshire

While Hampshire are bidding for their fifth List A silverware of the 21st century this weekend, it’s a totally different story for their Metro Bank One-Day Cup final opponents Leicestershire.
Leicestershire captain Lewis Hill. Picture by Ross Kinnaird/Getty ImagesLeicestershire captain Lewis Hill. Picture by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Leicestershire captain Lewis Hill. Picture by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Hampshire have tasted Lord’s final victories in 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2018.

Shaun Udal lifted the C & G Trophy (v Warwickshire, 2005), Dimi Mascarenhas the Friends Provident Trophy (v Sussex, 2009), Jimmy Adams the Clydesdale Bank 40 (v Warwickshire, 2012) and James Vince the Royal London Cup (v Kent, 2018).

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But Leicestershire’s last List A triumph was when David Gower’s side downed Graham Gooch’s Essex at Lord’s to win the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1985.

The Foxes have only been in one final since, coming out on the wrong side against Somerset in the Friends Provident Trophy decider, also at Lord’s, in 2001.

Given where they were barely two months ago, for Leicestershire to stand just one game away from their first one-day silverware in 38 years represents a turnaround in fortunes few could have foreseen.Back in early July, with just two wins from 14 Vitality Blast T20 matches and reeling from the departure of head coach Paul Nixon in unexplained and plainly acrimonious circumstances, the club appeared to be in turmoil.Somehow, though, they were able to launched their Metro Bank Cup campaign at the start of August by chasing down 326 to beat Surrey at The Kia Oval and followed it up by thrashing defending champions Kent by 264 runs at Beckenham.They went on to win seven from eight matches to finish top of Group A – inflicting Hampshire’s only defeat - before comfortably seeing off Gloucestershire in the semi-finals.No one could be more delighted, naturally, with how the players have bounced back from adversity than Lewis Hill, who has led Leicestershire’s List A side for the last three seasons but is in his first year as club captain.“After everything that happened, the guys have stuck together like glue and that is so pleasing as a captain,” he said.He praised Alfonso Thomas and James Taylor, who were named as joint interim head coaches after Nixon’s exit, for their part in the story.“They have been brilliant,” Hill said. “They have mainly left it to the players in terms of how we went to train and how we want to play our cricket and they have supported us in doing that.“Kudos to them for stepping in amid all the pressure and the stick that they were getting. It is testament to their character and that has really shone through with the players, so well done to them.“That first game set the tone. We knew the potential of the batting line-up we had with Sol Budinger joining the likes of Rishi Patel, Colin Ackermann and Wiaan Mulder in the side, but to do it in that first game at Surrey, on a big ground in front of a big crowd, made us realise what we were capable of and gave us massive momentum.”Such momentum, in fact, that the next three matches saw Leicestershire reset their List A record total twice.Their 380-5 in the win over Kent was the club’s highest List A score against a first-class county and that was eclipsed only five days later with their massive 411-6 against Lancashire at Old Trafford, which beat 406-5 against Berkshire in 1996 as the county’s all-opposition record.“What has been the most pleasing for me is that our skill level has been so high with bat, ball and in the field right through the competition,” Hill said. “We’ve been really clear in our plans to play aggressive cricket and to play cricket we enjoy. You play better cricket when you enjoy it.”If the batters have grabbed the headlines, the work of the bowlers has been equally important. Chris Wright (16 wickets) and South African all-rounder Mulder (12) have been mainstays, backed by impressive contributions from lesser-known faces in former Hampshire player Tom Scriven (14) and Josh Hull, the 18-year-old left-arm quick who has notched a debut-season return of 15.