Chris Woakes will return for Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston tomorrow when they seek to maintain their excellent NatWest T20 Blast record against Durham Jets (7pm start).
Of six meetings between the teams in the format the Bears have won five, most recently by seven wickets at the Emirates Riverside last season when Ian Bell (90 from 65 balls) and William Porterfield (41 not out from 32) made short work of a testing target of 163.
This time Durham will arrive on the back of an impressive 66-run home win over Notts Outlaws on Wednesday night while the Bears look to bounce back from last Friday’s defeat to Worcestershire Rapids.
Birmingham welcome England all-rounder Woakes back into a first-team group which boasts an encouraging blend of senior players and younger guns, with several of the latter having already starred this season.
Against the Rapids last week, 20-year-old seamer Mark Adair became the latest emerging player to step up when he made his NatWestT20Blast debut as captain Ian Bell and director of cricket Dougie Brown strive to develop a squad for the future whilst also competing hard in the present.
“You always need to strive for that balance,” said Bell. “Of course you want to win every game you play but it’s also vital to give the younger guys their opportunity.
“That is what we want to do here. Doug and I are Bears through and through and have been part of some great times at the club but we want to build a platform for more success in the future.
“We have quite a mature squad, so it’s essential that we keep younger guys coming through.
“That will take time. Ashley Giles is a guy I respect hugely and talk to quite a lot and we all know what success he brought to the Club as Director of Cricket, but it took him some time to get the building blocks in place.
“In the last two weeks we have seen some really encouraging signs. Andy Umeed scored a brilliant century in the championship against Durham, Sam Hain played a match-winning innings in the T20 at Trent Bridge and Mark Adair came in against Worcestershire Rapids in front of a big crowd at Edgbaston and did really well.”
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