A new year means a fresh opportunity and a whole host of Bears are already dusting off the pads in preparation for a busy 2024.

With a large group based at Edgbaston, a small selection are heading south for franchise and grade cricket opportunities. 

Moeen Ali and Chris Benjamin are up first having been picked up by the Joburg Super Kings and MI Cape Town for the SA20 respectively. 

Both will be playing in the competition for the first time although Mo did make two appearances for the T20 domestic side Cape Town Blitz in 2019. Benjamin, a South African native, heavily featured for the Eastern Province Under-17s, although he has yet to play T20 cricket in the rainbow nation due to his attendance at Durham University.

To watch both in action, head to Sky Sports who will be showing all the games throughout the competition that ends on 10 February. The Super Kings kickstart the tournament against the current champions Sunrisers Eastern Cape on Wednesday 10 January (3.30 pm GMT), while MI face Durban’s Super Giants a day later at the same time. 

Just over a week later, the ILT20 gets underway for a second time in the United Arab Emirates. 

Sam Hain, Jake Lintott, Chris Woakes and Assistant Coach Ian Westwood will all partake in the competition that’s taking place between January 19 and February 17.

Hain, who will head to the Middle East after the Big Bash group stages, will link up alongside Lintott with the Abu Dhabi Knight Riders. Lintott returns to the competition having made an appearance with Desert Vipers last year.

Woakes, meanwhile, will feature for the Sharjah Warriors for a second stint, having taken seven wickets in six appearances last year. The all-rounder will once again will work with Westwood who was named Assistant and Fielding Coach, after being part of Paul Farbrace’s leadership group last term

Dan Mousley, who made five appearances for MI Emirates last year, is part of a 15-player England Lions squad that will fly to India in early January for a month-long red-ball tour that coincides with the start of England Men’s five-match Test series.

Elsewhere, Rob Yates struck 54 for Bayswater-Morley as they chased down 242 against Midland-Guildford. The opener has returned down under to Perth after featuring for the Baysie Bears last winter before his surgery. 

England’s Tazeem Ali, Hamza Shaikh and Theo Wylie will play their first warm-up fixture against Afghanistan on Sunday, ahead of the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup which takes place in South Africa. The Three Lions’ first competitive fixture is against Scotland in Potchefstroom on Saturday 20 January.

Finally, Che Simmons and Kai Smith are both playing club cricket in Barbados and South Africa respectively. 

Mark Robinson has requested that all Bears report to Edgbaston on 1 March ahead of an exciting 2024 campaign. To finalise their winter schedule, the playing squad will be part of a five-strong county contingent heading to Abu Dhabi.

Essex, Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Yorkshire will all join the Bears in the UAE capital to fine-tune their preparations from 11 March.

Alongside a team representing the host city, the five counties will participate in a three-day T20 festival before each playing a two-day red-ball match, with all fixtures taking place at the Zayed Cricket Academy complex.

Four Teams. Two Matches. Blast Off is back!

Vitality Blast Off is back and the Bears will launch their home T20 campaign with a huge men’s double-header featuring two big Midlands rivalry games.

Taking place on Saturday 1 June, Derbyshire Falcons host Leicestershire Foxes (2.30pm) before the Bears take on Notts Outlaws (6.30pm). Buy tickets in advance and save.

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