Is Paul Farbrace the man to inspire Birmingham to finals day?

T20 BLAST PREVIEW: Stars young and old will attempt to take the team back to the Edgbaston finale after struggling for consistency in 2018

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Coach: Jim Troughton

Captain: Jeetan Patel

Overseas: Ashton Agar (Australia) and Jeetan Patel (New Zealand)

Last season: 6th in North Division

How did they do last year? 

The team formerly known as Warwickshire had a decent campaign last year – winning six and tying one of their 14 matches. However, they failed to qualify for the Quarter-Finals, which is something of a rarity as they’ve progressed three times in the last five seasons. 

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Dominic Sibley has been imperious this season

Who are their key players?

Jeetan Patel: The skipper remains the Bears’ star player. At 39, the bowling allrounder is vastly experienced having played more than 200 T20s, 24 Tests and 43 ODIs. He was also a member of the squad when the beat Lancashire in the 2014 final.

Ashton Agar: The left-arm spinner is still best remembered for his 98 on Test debut against England in the 2013 Ashes. He will offer international quality with the ball, while Ed Pollock – who scored at a rate of 185.92 last season in the Blast – will be keen to impress. 

If available, England’s Olly Stone will be a crucial asset, and Test outsiders Ian Bell and Sam Hain could also star. There’s also Oliver Hannon-Dalby, who claimed 15 wickets at 18.87 for Birmingham last year.

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What are their biggest strengths? 

As alluded to earlier, the midlands side are very consistent and have plenty of experience in their ranks. Paul Farbrace, who coached Sri Lanka to victory in the 2014 World T20 final, will also have a massive influence on this squad as Warwickshire’s new sport director. 

And, let’s not forget that Edgbaston, the home of T20 cricket in England, will be an intimidating place for any team to travel to on a Thursday or Friday evening. Edgbaston is always an asset and an incentive for the Bears.

Where might they have a weakness?

Birmingham were very dependable on Patel’s New Zealand compatriots Grant Elliott and Colin de Grandhomme last season – both of whom are no longer part of the squad. It’s unlikely that Bell, Hain and Stone will be selected for The Ashes, but this could also be a concern for coach Jim Troughton. 

And while this is a decent Birmingham squad, it’s far from spectacular. Considering Lancashire have Glenn Maxwell, Notts have Harry Gurney and Yorkshire have David Willey, there are far more exciting individuals in the North Division.

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Ashton Agar returns to English shores - scene of his international breakthrough

Chances of reaching Finals Day? 

Slim, but not impossible. 

Strongest XI (with T20 Player Index ratings): Ian Bell (175), Ed Pollock (414), Adam Hose (325), Sam Hain (259), Dominic Sibley (583), Aston Agar (89), Michael Burgess (664), Alex Thomason (461), Jeetan Patel (212), Olly Stone (512), Oliver Hannon-Dalby (335)

Fixtures: Jul 19 – Worcestershire (a), Jul 21 – Leicestershire (h), Jul 24 – Derbyshire (h), Jul 26 – Northamptonshire (a), Aug 2 – Nottinghamshire (a), Aug 4 – Yorkshire (a), Aug 7 – Leicestershire (a), Aug 9 – Nottinghamshire (h), Aug 11 – Lancashire (h), Aug 16 – Lancashire (a), Aug 23 – Worcestershire (h), Aug 25 – Northamptonshire (h), Aug 27 – Durham (a), Aug 30 – Yorkshire (h)

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