Winners of the NatWest20Blast on three occasions – in 2004, 2006 and 2011 – The Foxes are always difficult opponents, especially at their own Fischer County Ground Road home.

Under the astute stewardship of Wasim Khan, former Bears batsman and now Foxes chief executive, they are showing signs of resurgence in all formats. But they came a cropper in the T20Blast at the Fischer County Ground last season against the Birmingham Bears – and Rikki Clarke in particular.

"Friday night NatWest T20 Blast games under floodlights will be great,."

Mark Pettini, Foxes Captain

Clarke top-scored with an intelligently-composed 46 from 36 balls to engineer the Bears a solid total of 160 after the Foxes had got rid of big guns Brendon McCullum and Varun Chopra early on. With perspicacious support from Tim Ambrose (34 from 28 balls) and Ateeq Javid (28 from 16) the former England all-rounder ensured the Foxes a stiff target – and then made their task a whole lot harder with a brilliant opening spell with the ball.

Clarke delivered his four overs for just ten runs, bowling 16 dot-balls – a remarkably high ratio in the hurly-burly of T20. The Foxes were behind the clock from that point and never caught up, ultimately beaten by eight runs.

Reinforced by some shrewd winter signings, the Foxes will be gunning for revenge on June 24 and their new NatWestT20Blast captain Mark Pettini reckons the atmosphere will be one to savour. “Friday night NatWest T20 Blast games under floodlights will be great,” he said. “It should be a special summer from that point of view, a buzzing atmosphere can add 10% to a player’s performance levels.


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