Preview: Notts Outlaws v Birmingham Bears, NatWest T20 Blast 2017

Birmingham Bears will face Notts Outlaws in the NatWestT20Blast tomorrow (6.30pm) seeking to “put the perfect game together” for the first time in the tournament this season, says Grant Elliott.

It’s a crucial weekend for the Bears who sit fourth in the North Group, just one point behind leaders Outlaws who are at the top of a very tight league table.

After tomorrow’s game at Trent Bridge, Elliott and his team-mates travel up to Durham Jets for their penultimate group match on Sunday (2.30pm) – and victory in both would assure them a place in the quarter-finals ahead of the final game, away to Lancashire Lightning next Friday.

"We’ve got some top-class experienced players alongside younger guys and players coming in and making their debuts and with everyone wanting each other to do well there is a really exciting feeling about the place."

Grant Elliott

A mouth-watering clash is in prospect tomorrow with the Bears, who have won four out of the last five, meeting an Outlaws side which has surged to the summit on the back of some explosive batting led by Alex Hales.

New Zealand star Elliott will again be key to Birmingham’s strategy with both bat and ball. With 231 runs at an average of 38.50 and ten wickets at 21.80, he has brought to the team exactly the all-round nous expected.

But Elliott sets the bar high. And while pleased, up to a point, with progress so far, both personally and from the team he is demanding more.

“We have played some good T20 cricket but haven’t put the perfect game together yet,” the Black Caps star said. “We have batted well at times and bowled well in patches but haven’t put it all together. That’s what we are looking to do in these last three games.

“Personally, when you come into a team you just want to contribute to some wins and I feel I’ve done okay without having really nailed my role yet. At home to Worcestershire rapids last week, for example, if I had batted for a little bit longer we would probably have won the game.

“But we have played enough good cricket to be right in the mix in a very tight league. Almost every side is still in with a chance so we have just got to give it everything in these last three games.

“Notts will be a really tough proposition. They are going well at the top of the table and have some big players, but there is a real buzz about our place at the moment. I was at Lord’s on Tuesday to see the guys pull off that fantastic win in the championship and there is a real sense here of something good building, for this year, next year and beyond.

“We’ve got some top-class experienced players alongside younger guys and players coming in and making their debuts and with everyone wanting each other to do well there is a really exciting feeling about the place.”

One of those top-class experienced players, Jeetan Patel, will make a spot of Bears history tomorrow when he plays his 88th successive T20 for the club, breaking Neil Carter’s record. It will be Patel’s 98th in all, so he is on course for another record at Old Trafford next week – the first player to represent the Bears in 100 T20s.

Birmingham Bears Squad

  • Ian Bell (Captain)
  • Colin de Grandhomme
  • Grant Elliott
  • Sam Hain
  • Oliver Hannon-Dalby
  • Adam Hose
  • Ateeq Javid
  • Alex Mellor (Wicket-Keeper)
  • Jeetan Patel
  • Ed Pollock
  • William Porterfield
  • Josh Poysden
  • Boyd Rankin
  • Dominic Sibley
  • Olly Stone
  • Aaron Thomason