The Birmingham Bears squad is already hard at work honing their skills for the 2017 NatWest T20 Blast campaign with First Team Coach Jim Troughton stressing that the seeds of glory at Edgbaston on Finals Day on 2 September are sown "deep in the winter."
As he settles into the role of head coach, Troughton is targeting a third Finals Day appearance in four years for the Bears.
Winners in 2014 and semi-finalists in 2015, Birmingham missed out on the Edgbaston showpiece last year after a collapse in form in the second half of the group saw them miss out on qualification.
That frustration has only made Troughton's side more determined than ever to make it through to the Finals Day in 2017. And preparation is already well underway in terms of both strategic thinking and one-to-one skills sessions with players.
"To come to Edgbaston, which everyone knows is the best atmosphere in the country, for Finals Day, is amazing," Troughton said. "Most of our guys have experienced it and you just want to be there again and again. It's a fantastic day.
"The guys know at the start of the year how important it is to try to get there. Once you are in the quarter-finals you are three wins away from the trophy but you don't just appear in the quarter-finals by magic. It takes a lot of hard work - and the hard work has started. It begins deep in the winter with bat and ball and we have to keep it going and make sure we get to that block of games in the summer holidays in good order."
Two Birmingham Bears have already tasted success in the T20 format this year. Jeetan Patel was part of the Wellington Firebirds team which won the McDonalds Super Smash in New Zealand and Ian Bell will aim to match that feat when he lines up for Perth Scorchers in final of the Big Bash in Australia on Saturday.
Led by the class of Bell with the bat and craft of Patel with the ball, Birmingham will be looking to challenge hard in this summer's Blast.
"Last year we started really well and were in a great position and just needed that one more win to qualify for the quarter-finals," Troughton said. "The thing with T20 is if you get into that wrong direction it can be very hard to resist that and change it. But, disappointing though that was, some good things came out of the campaign. Some young players put their hands up who we hadn't seen in previous years which is a good sign for us.
"It will be slightly different this year, moving to a block of fixtures which I think will benefit the players in terms of continuity. I think it will help us play more consistently good T20 cricket and hopefully give the Birmingham Bears fans lots to cheer."
Season Pass 2017
The best value way to see the Bears in action in 2017 is a NatWest T20 Blast Season Pass, which is priced at just £77 for all home games.
Secure yours by clicking here calling the Ticket & Membership Hotline on 0844 847 1902.