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They say time flies when you are having fun - well, these last five weeks have absolutely flown by.

It’s been an incredible experience and another tournament that I feel very privileged to have been a part of.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, the Bangladesh Premier League finals were held in Dhaka. Fortune Barishal were there and though, unfortunately, I did not get the opportunity to play in the finals, it was still great to be a part of it. The return of fans made it a great atmosphere and it was a good experience to get to the latter stages of a competition.

We played Comilla in the first play off and won a really tight game where we scraped to a mediocre total only for our bowlers to dig us out of trouble and defend the modest score on a good pitch. That advanced us straight through to the final where we met Comilla again after they beat Chattogram (who were the winners of the 3rd/4th play off). The final was almost a complete reversal of the first play off.

They scored a modest total of 152 and then we started brilliantly and managed to get to a position where we needed 30 off 30 balls with seven wickets in hand. You might wonder how we lost from this position! I am still in a bit of shock and it was a really disappointing end to the tournament for us after we went from a feeling of being so close to winning, to losing in a short space of time. It is a great example of how sport can change so quickly, particularly in finals cricket when the pressure is on.

However, although ultimately there was disappointment, it has been a brilliant experience and it would be foolish to let one result tarnish five fantastic weeks. I am really grateful to all the team for making me so welcome, from the players all the way through to the support staff and management. They have been brilliant with me. Whenever you come to a new country, it can be daunting, there is a language barrier, you are eating completely different food, the culture is very different and finally the cricket is played in different condition, which is challenging too. So to be treated so well and made to feel a part of things only helps with everything.

I want to give a special mention to Shakib Al-Hasan who gave me the opportunity to come and play for him. Some of you may have a negative picture of Shakib in your head due to his on-field antics and competitive nature. I did too, to be honest, before arriving. but he is the complete opposite. A great man, he goes over and above for everyone, is extremely humble and is easily one of the best cricketers I’ve had the pleasure of playing with. In Sha Allah I will get the opportunity to play with him again.

So what else have I got out of my trip? I feel in a brilliant place with my cricket right now. I have spoken about subtle changes I made to my bowling pre Christmas. This tournament allowed me to try and implement some of those things. They’ve gone really well and am bowling as well as I ever have, which is a huge positive. I have also worked hard at my batting. It was great to get the opportunity to open the batting, and nearly did so again in the final. It is really important for me that I score runs and win games of cricket with the bat as well as the ball. If I want to go onto higher honours I need to improve all areas. So to get good opportunity to improve that has been great.

Another bonus when being left out of the side is that you are always likely to get on the field as a sub fielder (especially with Chris Gayle on the field!). I had plenty of opportunities to field in pressured situations, took some good catches and gained a lot of confidence with that which has been good. All of these positives, added to fantastic hospitality and a greater understanding of how lucky we are to live in England in such brilliant conditions, have made this a brilliant trip.

I am typing this sat in the Emirates lounge about to board my flight back to Birmingham. We have a week off this week as it is half term. I will be resting up and heading to New York on Thursday for a long weekend. On my return my focus will switch solely to the 2022 season…another really exciting one from a Bears perspective. I can’t wait. I look forward to seeing you all at Edgbaston this summer. Thanks for all your messages over the last month or so. They mean a lot. Speak soon. Over and out. Youuuuuuu Bears.

Jake

T20 Quarter-Final: Tickets only £10

Birmingham Bears will host Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston on Thursday 7 July (6.30pn) in the Vitality Blast quarter-finals.

Adult tickets are available from £10, when you buy in advance of the day of the match. Under 12s go FREE and 12 to 15-year-olds are £1. Members and Season Pass holders go FREE.

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