One-Day Cup final: Leicestershire take on Hampshire after off-field turmoil

Metro Bank One-Day Cup final

Venue: Trent Bridge Date: Saturday, 16 September (11:00 BST)

Coverage: Live radio and text commentary on BBC Sport website, plus desktop, tablets, mobiles and app.

Leicestershire captain Lewis Hill says his players have "stuck together like glue" amid a season of off-field troubles as they look to win their first one-day trophy since 1985.

The Foxes face Hampshire in the One-Day Cup final at Trent Bridge on Saturday just three months after Paul Nixon was removed as head coach and key players confirmed they were leaving.

Alfonso Thomas and former England batter James Taylor were drafted in as joint interim head coaches and have overseen a remarkable turnaround in fortunes with the club also going for promotion from Division Two in the County Championship.

"After everything that happened, the guys have stuck together like glue and that is so pleasing as a captain," Hill said.

"They [Thomas and Taylor] have been brilliant. They have mainly left it to the players in terms of how we want 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."

Leicestershire started their One-Day Cup campaign in August by comfortably chasing 326 to beat Surrey at The Oval and went on to win seven of their eight games in the group stage.

Their victory against Lancashire included a club-record score of 411-6, led by Rishi Patel's innings of 161.

In the semi-final their superb form continued as they skittled Gloucestershire for 125 to win by six wickets.

Leicestershire have been crowned T20 champions three times over the past two decades, but have not won any List A silverware since they beat Essex 38 years ago.

"That first game set the tone," Hill said.

"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.

"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.

"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."

'More noise outside the dressing room'

Taylor, who was forced to retire from playing in 2016 following the diagnosis of a serious heart condition, said the upheaval in the middle of the season "wasn't ideal" but had not affected the club as badly as had been portrayed.

"I'll be honest, there was probably more noise outside the dressing room than there was inside it," the 33-year-old told BBC Radio Leicestershire.

"We are very lucky, we have a great bunch of guys and the culture we have got now is brilliant. The environment itself has been outstanding.

"There was quiet inside the dressing room whilst there was a lot of noise outside the dressing room.

"We have super-talented guys, as well as experienced guys and they have just gone about their business really nicely."

The Foxes go into the final off the back of just failing to chase 499 to beat Sussex in the County Championship. The 15-run defeat left them fourth in Division Two and 21 points off the second promotion place.

"To be able to do it on both fronts, in the Metro Bank Cup to win all our games bar one in that, and to be competing in the Championship, which is the hardest format - competing on two fronts with the squad we have got is a credit to the players, they have been outstanding," Taylor added.

"We are in a good place, we just need to keep ticking those games along and keep putting in good performances.

"The best thing about the team is that individuals have stepped up, we haven't just relied on one guy throughout the season. Everyone has won a game for us, which has been really nice."

'I think they're going to love it'

Opponents Hampshire have not been short of limited-overs success. The county has won seven one-day trophies since their first Benson & Hedges Cup triumph in 1988 along with three Twenty20 titles.

They have also won seven of their eight group matches this season, with their only defeat coming against Leicestershire.

They thumped Warwickshire in their semi-final at Edgbaston, bowling out the hosts for 93 before racing to a nine-wicket victory.

England all-rounder Liam Dawson ran through the Bears with a club-record 7-15 and said he felt lucky to come into the group at the tail end of the competition following a stint in The Hundred.

"For a young group to get to a knockout game and then to a final shows real improvement. I've only played two games so far so I'm lucky to come into the group, it's been a fun group to come into and hopefully I can contribute to a win on Saturday," Dawson told BBC Radio Solent.

"I came into a group that was winning, so nothing I can say is going to improve them because the cricket they've played has been brilliant."

Hampshire's past two appearances in the final, a victory in 2018 and defeat by Somerset a year later, both came at Lord's.

The launch of The Hundred in 2021 led to the 50-over final being switched to Trent Bridge and Dawson said he was a little bit disappointed that some of the younger players would not experience a Lord's showpiece.

"I've been lucky enough to play in three Lord's finals [2009, 2012 and 2018] and win them all," the 33-year-old added.

"They're amazing days, as players they're one of the great days in the calendar, so the final not being at Lord's is a little bit disappointing for lads who haven't experienced it before.

"But Trent Bridge is still a very good ground, it's going to be a big occasion, and lads who haven't played in finals before, I think they're going to love it."