McDonald and Henderson available for Champions League

Leicestershire, the new Friends Life t20 champions, will have Australia all-rounder Andrew McDonald and former South Africa slow left armer Claude Henderson available to play for them in next month’s Champions League qualifying tournament in Hyderabad.

McDonald is under contract with Leicestershire until the end of September so can play in the qualifying tournament between September 19 and 21. But if Leicestershire progress to the main Champions League they will have to negotiate McDonald’s release with Victoria.

Henderson had already qualified to play in the Champions League proper with Cape Cobras, his South Africa franchise side, but he had been omitted from their squad having failed to confirm his availability in time.

Leicestershire are still uncertain whether Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq will be able to obtain a visa to gain entry to India and they have just three weeks to clear the various bureaucratic hurdles.

 “Abdul is adamant that he can get a visa and he is adamant that he can get into India, but we are not so sure,” said Leicestershire coach Phil Whitticase.

“The ECB believe it’s the Champions League’s decision, and if Razzaq cannot get in we will have see whether we can get a replacement.

“Macca [McDonald] will be available. He’s contracted with us until the end of September. But there’s lots to organise, lots of meetings to have.

“Claude is with us. He had qualified with Cape Cobras but I don’t believe he got the information back to them as quick as possible and therefore wasn’t selected.

“So he came to me a couple of weeks ago and said when we win the trophy I will be with you in Champions League so it’s all worked out very well.”

Leicestershire’s 18-run win over Somerset at Edgbaston rounded off a roller-coaster season. They are set to collect the County Championship wooden spoon for the second time and only Scotland will finish below them in their Clydesdale Bank 40 group.

“Our Championship form has been pretty abysmal. We started the season with massive optimism as a group of players and the momentum from 2010. The feeling was that we would perform very well in Championship cricket but that hasn’t been the case,” Whitticase said.

“Twenty20 sort of crept up on us. We had a Championship game down at Tunbridge Wells just before the tournament began and that was the first time we really sat and talked about Twenty20.

“We actually highlighted roles. We went into fine detail about people’s roles and everyone has played their roles in this competition. We have had the belief that everyone knew what they had to do.”

The Twenty20 success was also sweet for Whitticase, a loyal servant of the county, who was Leicestershire’s assistant coach when they won the competition in 2004 and 2006 and who was thrust back into the role of head coach last winter following the resignation of Tim Boon.

“I was coaching in 2002 when Twenty20 was first introduced. We took it seriously and we were one of the first counties to actually do that,” he said.

“We lost in the first finals day at Trent Bridge and that was tough. I got moved into a different role and I was assistant coach to the two wins we had before. From a personal perspective it’s good to win as the head coach.

“It’s been an emotional year in respect to how we’ve played. There have been some low days: 34 all out isn’t a great day, 48 all out isn’t a great day but these days make up for it.”

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