Gary Ballance Blog: White ball focus ahead of NatWest T20 Blast

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Tonight marks the start of the NatWest T20 Blast and I know everyone is really looking forward to it kicking off. I can’t wait to play in front of a big crowd at Headingley again!

They have changed the format this year with the games being played on Friday nights with the aim to attract bigger crowds so hopefully that will work, starting tonight against Northants. I’m sure the atmosphere will be good and everyone likes playing in front of big crowds so I’m sure the boys will be up for it.

We have worked hard in the last few days to get ready for Northants who are a strong side because they won it last year so it will be a tough first game.

The preparation for a T20 game is quite different because we have moved to the white ball with an aim to hit more boundaries so the practice is different because you work on different skills.

In a T20 net session you look to hit more boundary shots whereas in red ball cricket you are working at leaving the ball well and a strong defence. It is different but in this era of the game you have to be able to adapt and we are ready having worked for a couple of days and we have all worked hard over the winter with a white ball.

There have been strong rumours about a return of Andrew Flintoff to T20 cricket and he would offer so much to the competition. Freddie is a legend and I’ve heard he is running in hard and bowling with some pace so it would be brilliant for the game in this country if he did come back and it would be good to play in a Roses match at Headingley or over at Old Trafford against him.

Since my last blog I’ve had a busy week with England and Yorkshire and it was always going to be a tough game in Scotland. It would have been nice to get the full 50 overs in but with the rain around we did well to get 20 in so to get a win and a game for England is always a good day.

That showed you have to be flexible as a side and as an individual. With people like Buttler, Morgan and Bopara in our side they came in ahead of me because they have done very well in the shortest format of the game and they can hit the ball out of the ground. They got the team into a good position which gave us a good score and the bowlers defended it well.

It was a good environment for the few days in Loughborough and up in Aberdeen, most of the guys have either been together in Australia or out in the West Indies and Bangladesh so it was good to meet up in a top class environment. We worked really hard in practice and everyone seemed to enjoy the few days we had together.

I’ve since been selected for the ODI series against Sri Lanka which starts at the Oval next Thursday and it’s obviously brilliant to get picked and hopefully if I do get the chance to play I can get a few good scores and a few wins. Things have gone well so far this season but there is a lot of cricket to be played. Hopefully I can keep up the form and scoring runs!

I have to mention the brilliant result at Headingley from this week too! To score over 400 on a pitch that was nipping about was  a great effort from the batters then the bowlers to come off two tough games down at Lord’s and up at Durham and perform like they did was an unbelievable effort.

It was even better considering the opposition was Warwickshire who have some quality players so that made it a very good win for us. Hopefully we can take the momentum into the T20 and the rest of the Championship games.

It’s so important to have a strong squad with such a long season and so many games to play there will be times when bowlers are going to have to be rested.

You do need a strong squad with a few extra bowlers and the boys that have come in have done very well. Steve Patterson was left out then came in and did a good job and there are still other bowlers waiting in the wings in case somebody else needs to be rested or injured so it proves you need a strong squad to win trophies.

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