Reaction as Pierre de Bruyn leaves his role at Grace Road
IT WAS always going to be difficult to take any positives from a campaign that began with the county on minus 16 points but even the most pessimistic of Leicestershire followers wouldn’t have expected the news that broke on Sunday.
A statement on the county’s website announced coach Pierre de Bruyn’s brief but tempestuous reign was over with immediate effect, with Graeme Welch and John Sadler stepping up.
It was hardly the finale De Bruyn, 40, had envisaged when handed the reins by chief executive, Wasim Khan, in October. It was, though, entirely in keeping with everything that had gone before it at Grace Road this season.
Unsurprisingly, the South African tells The Cricket Paper with some understatement that the past week has been difficult.
“Look, it’s something that is tough at the moment – it’s a tough one,” he says. “Looking back in hindsight I’m very pleased with what I’ve put in. I followed the vision that was set out at the start.
“I’m the type who never compromises high standards and values. I’ve instilled those and I’ve got peace in my heart that I’ve given all to the club, to the players and the environment.
“I’ve established a high performing team-based environment but, ultimately, you’re judged on performances.”
In red-ball cricket Leicestershire clearly haven’t been good enough, with the county taking an apparent backward step after the strides forward made under the guidance of Aussie coach, Andrew McDonald, last time out.
A winless Division Two season that began with a 16-point deduction after Charlie Shreck’s indiscretions against Loughborough MCCU, appear to have forced the hand of De Bruyn, who resigned from his post with a month of fixtures still remaining.
The departure of Angus Robson just a week into the season hardly endeared the South African to the supporters or some members of the dressing room.
Although qualifying ahead of Yorkshire and 2016 champions, Northamptonshire, represented something approaching progress in T20, a nine-wicket hammering by Glamorgan in the last eight meant their campaign ended with a whimper.
“Ultimately, I’m proud of the way we’ve played in white-ball cricket – we’ve made massive strides,” he says. “In 50-over cricket we just fell short of the quarter-finals and in the T20 we got to the quarters for the first time in six years.
“I’m really, really pleased with how that worked out and where I’ve taken white-ball cricket. For me, it was really fantastic learnings. Learnings about the game, learnings about man management, learnings about myself. It was fantastic working alongside a very good man in Wasim Khan – he will always be a role model and a mentor to me.
“He gave me a great opportunity to start my coaching career over here and I can only thank him for that.”
Wasim Khan was unavailable to add to the comments he gave to the BBC following De Bruyn’s exit.
“Sometimes things can’t wait until the end of the season and an issue has to be dealt with,” Khan told BBC Leicester. “People’s characters are very different – characters either gel or not with individuals in any dressing room in any sport. Sometimes there’s disconnection, and if it becomes too much of a gap and too much of an issue, action has to be taken.”
Leicestershire now begin another search for someone to lift the county from the depths of Division Two, with Welch and Sadler being handed the opportunity to prove their worth before September is out.
Mike Siddall, the county’s former chief executive and now membership secretary of the Leicestershire Cricket Society, knows the club as well as anyone. And he admits that supporters have been underwhelmed this season.
“The T20 was good, apart from the quarter-final, where we were the only side to win the toss and bat first – that was an amazingly strange decision,” he says.
“We had made some real progress under Andrew McDonald, I don’t think there was any doubt about that. I think that’s probably why they appointed Pierre as the coach, there was probably a sense of not wanting to rock the boat as he was Andrew’s No.2.
“But it hasn’t quite gone the way we’d have wanted. Some of the older signings haven’t hit the mark and some of the younger lad have not progressed. The problem is, when you’re a club like Leicestershire, you’re looking for guys who are coming to the end of their career and hoping you can get two good years out of them, or you’re looking for unproven youngsters. That has always been the issue here.”
Khan has said he expects interest in the newly vacant role from all over the world. Whoever takes it will be sure of one thing – it won’t be easy.
High hopes: Pierre de Bruyn started his career as Leicestershire coach after stepping up from No.2
Global search: Wasim Khan