Chris Woakes believes new signings Grant Elliott and Colin de Grandhomme will bring “a huge amount” to the Birmingham Bears’ NatWestT20Blast campaign.
The two Black Caps stars will make their Bears debut on Friday against old rivals Worcestershire Rapids in front of a sell-out crowd at New Road on Friday.
Both are seam-bowling all-rounders with a track record at the highest level. The vastly-experienced Elliott has played a big role in New Zealand’s rise in white-ball cricket over recent years while De Grandhomme is one of the most exciting batsman around with a strike-rate of 168.26 runs/100 balls – the best in world cricket.
De Grandhomme has joined as the Bears’ second overseas player alongside fellow Kiwi Jeetan Patel while Elliott arrives as a Kolpak. And having played alongside both during his career, Bears and England all-rounder Woakes can vouch for the powers they will bring to Ian Bell’s side in the short format.
“They are great signings,” Woakes said. “They will both bring a huge amount to the Bears and definitely some exciting cricket.
“I played with Grant when I had a stint in Wellington with the Firebirds and with Colin more recently with Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
“Grant is a great guy who really knows his cricket and will bring a lot of nous as well as quality to the team. He has loads of experience from the highest level.
"Both the guys have scored runs and taken wickets at the highest level so will bring good flexibility which is what you want in T20. You want players who can give you options and they can both bowl their quota of overs and score quickly."
“Colin clears the ropes pretty easily. He is a really exciting player, particularly with bat in hand as you can tell from his strike-rate. He hits the ball a long way.
“What I love about him is he doesn’t take things too seriously. He’s a free-spirited cricketer who just goes out there and plays. He plays risky cricket so sometimes might not come off, but he’ll still have a smile on his face and the same attitude going into the next game.
“And when he comes off it’s worth watching. The Bears fans will love him. They are both great guys, as Kiwis generally are, and I am sure their qualities will also rub off on our other guys.”
Woakes himself is currently recovering from a side-strain which has ruled him out of England contention for now. He will probably be out for another two weeks so the Bears opening Blast games, against the Rapids on Friday then at home to Notts Outlaws on Saturday (6.30pm start) will come too soon for him – but he would love to be involved at some point.
“I was told I’d be out four-to-six weeks and it looks like it will be six,” he said. “Then it’s a case of building up and feeling confident to let go at full title so we’ll have to see.
“I’d love to play some T20s for the Bears but it’s hard to say because the timing of this injury is terrible because championship cricket takes a break and ideally I’d want to get a championship game in and some overs under the belt and some red-ball cricket in to get back in the Test team.
“There are a few 2nd XI fixtures that might be possible and, if the ECB clear it, I might be able to get back and play some T20s as well.”
Watch them in action
The Bears’ kick off their T20 home campagin on Saturday July 8 at 7.00pm. Secure your tickets now at just £19 for adult tickets (£23 on the day) and Under 16s go FREE.