Birmingham Bears have made a fantastic start to their NatWestT20Blast campaign with successive wins – and Jeetan Patel can’t wait for the weekend arrive with back-to-back home games.
Fresh from launching their North Group season with victories over powerful Worcestershire Rapids and Notts Outlaws outfits, the Bears will be back at Edgbaston to take on Northants Steelbacks on Friday (7pm) and Leicestershire Foxes on Sunday (2.30pm).
Almost 10,000 people were inside Edgbaston last Saturday to see the Bears beat the Outlaws by six wickets in a last-ball thriller.
"An atmosphere like that always gives us players a real lift so it’s great to have two home games next weekend, including a Friday-nighter which is always special at Edgbaston"
A big factor in that win was the superb spin-bowling of Patel who ended with 4-0-22-4, a haul that included the prize wickets of England white-ball hero Alex Hales for just three and big-hitting opener Michael Lumb.
Patel spiked those particular big guns – to the delight of the Bears fans whose passionate backing for the team was another huge factor in the win, insists the Kiwi star.
“The crowd was brilliant last Friday,” he said. “An atmosphere like that always gives us players a real lift so it’s great to have two home games next weekend, including a Friday-nighter which is always special at Edgbaston.
“Hopefully we can get out there again and put on another show because that’s what people want to see. The spectators want to see players having fun and playing with freedom and if we are winning along the way then great.
“We know they are two important games this weekend and we have got a big week of training which will be really useful and then the two home games that we need to impress in.
“Northants are always a very good T20 side. They put a lot of resources into that format and that makes them a good, challenging team but we have got a bit of an insight to them with Olly Stone so hopefully we will understand a little bit about them.
“Leicestershire have some dangerous players too but we are playing some good T20 cricket and I believe as long as we go out there with our shoulders back, and play with that confidence and fun we want to have in T20 as the Birmingham Bears, then we’ve got a great chance of success.
“We will get hit for fours and sixes, but also take wickets along the way, and we will hit fours and sixes and get out along the way, that’s T20, so we just have to accept that and enjoy it.”
Birmingham’s strong start has been abetted by the swift settling in, both on and off the field, of Patel’s fellow Kiwi aces Grant Elliott and Colin de Grandhomme.
“Grant played a really skilful innings last Friday and he is going to score some good runs for us,” Patel said. “Colin has not had much of an opportunity with the bat yet but he is a great striker of the ball – and both those guys can be very effective with the ball.
“In all departments we have got a lot of options at the moment with guys willing to express themselves and that’s a really nice situation to be in.”