Leicestershire have received a pre-season boost with four players who were due to be out-of-contract in September agreeing one-year extensions.
Batsmen Josh Cobb, Will Jefferson and Greg Smith, plus seam bowler Alex Wyatt, have all agreed to stay at Grace Road until the end of 2013, heading off potential interest from other counties.
Leicestershire will be particularly delighted to have persuaded Smith, who is spending the winter at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Australia, to sign an extension.
The former Durham University batsman is another product of Leicestershire’s successful youth system. He made his mark at the end of the 2010 season but fell away last year, his first full season, but would still have been an obvious target for bigger counties were he to find form again this summer.
Cobb, who made a century as an 18-year-old against Middlesex at Lord’s in 2008, has yet to establish himself as a regular in Leicestershire’s County Championship side, but he was a key member of the side that won the Friends Life t20 last August.
The son of former county opener Russell Cobb, he was Leicestershire’s leading Twenty20 run-scorer last season with 485 and he also took the man of the match award in their Edgbaston final win over Somerset for his four-wicket haul.
Former England A batsman Jefferson joined Leicestershire from Nottinghamshire two years ago and recovered from an injury-blighted first season at Grace Road to pass 1,000 first-class runs last summer as well as playing an important part in the Twenty20 Cup success.
Wyatt, a former Oakham School pupil, played in only four first-class and five one-day matches last season but Leicestershire expect him to push for more regular first team cricket this year.
Leicestershire have also recruited pace bowler Robbie Joseph, who was released by Kent last season, on a short-term contract.
Joseph, who has played for England Lions, will link up with Leicestershire for pre-season training in March and stay with them until at least the end of May.
Leicestershire are close to securing the services of former Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf as their overseas player for the new season and are also one of the counties hoping to recruit South African Albie Morkel for the Friends Life t20.
Morkel’s likely availability, however, has been complicated by his recent recall to South Africa’s one-day squad.