New Bears can’t wait for Rapids start

New Zealand stars Grant Elliott and Colin de Grandhomme can’t wait for their Birmingham Bears debut to arrive in the NatWestT20Blast opener away to Worcestershire Rapids tomorrow.

The Bears have seriously beefed up their Blast squad by signing the Black Caps all-rounders who both arrive with a proven track record at the top level.

"Listening to how passionately Jeetan speaks about the club and his pride in being part of the Bears excited me and made me want to come over and see it for myself."

Grant Elliott

Elliott, 38, has represented New Zealand 104 times across the formats and will bring a lot of skill and nous with bat and ball.

De Grandhomme, meanwhile, bowls medium-fast and is one of the most explosive batsmen in world T20. His 1,898 runs in the format have come at a sensational strike-rate of 168.26 and in 112 games he has hit 143 fours and 117 sixes.

Both have settled quickly and happily into the Birmingham squad and are determined to deliver for their new team – hopefully, says Elliott, a long-time team-mate of Jeetan Patel at Wellington in New Zealand, all the way through to Finals Day at Edgbaston.

“The club has an immense legacy and I am really looking forward to hopefully helping to add to it with a trophy win,” he said. “I’ve been here over a week now and am getting to know the lads and they are a great bunch.

“I feel like I know the Bears pretty well already because when Jeets comes back to Wellington I get to hear all about them. Listening to how passionately he speaks about the club and his pride in being part of the Bears excited me and made me want to come over and see it for myself.

“Edgbaston has some good memories for me. My ODI debut was there when the game was cut two balls short with us ahead on D/L. I took a few wickets that day so it is quite a special ground for me. Also, my first Test was against Belly and in those days we used to mix quite well with the opposition, especially the English lads and the South African guys. We tended to spend time in their changing rooms.

“It’s nice to be over here for my third stint in county cricket after spells with Surrey and Leicestershire and I’m keen to make this my home for the next two years.”

Elliott believes he has joined a Bears squad capable of challenging hard in their North Group campaign which starts with a double-header this weekend, at Worcester on Friday then at home to Notts Outlaws on Saturday (6pm).

“Finals Day is the goal,” he said. “In England the comp runs for two months instead of four to six weeks like most, so we might have players coming in and out of the team, but we’ve got a great squad and it’s going to be exciting.

“If we can go out there and relax and have a bit of fun and just let people play their natural games without any fear we have got a very strong team.”

"I had a decent summer back home in New Zealand and am stoked to get an opportunity at a great club like the Bears."

Colin de Grandhomme

No-one is stronger than De Grandhomme who is looking forward to adding to his career-tally of fours and sixes, this time on the Bears’ behalf.

“I had a decent summer back home in New Zealand and am stoked to get an opportunity at a great club like the Bears,” he said. “It’s my first county gig and I’m really looking forward to it. I have met the guys and they seem all good and I can’t wait to get started.

“Twenty20 cricket is a fun game, high-intensity and always on the go, so really enjoyable. I try to be positive from ball one and to put a bit of pressure back on the opponents. Hopefully I can come off and do my job and the team will do well.

“I know a bit about the Bears having played with Chris Woakes in the IPL. Woakesey is a good lad and the IPL was an awesome experience. Now I can’t wait to get going with the Bears.”