Ian Bell has hailed the inaugural men’s and women’s NatWestT20Blast double-header at Edgbaston on Sunday as an “exciting development for everyone connected with Warwickshire and the Birmingham Bears.”
The Bears women’s team will face Nottinghamshire on the main ground at Edgbaston straight after Bell’s side has taken on Lancashire Lightning (2.30pm).
It is the first of two Sunday-afternoon double-headers at Edgbaston this summer with the women also due to face Lancashire after the men play Leicestershire Foxes on July 17.
The Birmingham men’s and women’s teams are both gunning for glory in the format, with the women ready to launch their T20 campaign on Sunday bang in form as they are unbeaten after four matches in the County Championship and top of the table.
And Bell is looking forward to warmly welcoming his counterpart captain Marie Kelly and her team as part of the Edgbaston matchday package.
“It’s great to have a couple of double-headers this summer,” he said. “It’s an exciting development for everyone connected with Warwickshire and the Birmingham Bears.
“It will be great to see the girls get out there and put on a performance in front of the members and supporters on the main ground at Edgbaston. The women’s team is very much part of the Bears family and, with the way women’s cricket is growing, a very important part.
“We’ve got some fantastic young players, girls as well as boys, coming through the system, so it’s great for the girls to have the opportunity on the main ground.
“It was really disappointing earlier this year that we didn’t get a franchise for the Women’s Super League. When you think of what we offer here, with the way we have hosted T20 games and our commitment to women’s cricket over the last few years, it was disappointing that we were not among the teams to get first crack at that.
“But the women’s team have shown their quality by not being affected and having a great season so far and I am sure they will only go from strength to strength.”
While Kelly’s team strive to start their T20 season with a win on Sunday, Bell’s men will be aiming to continue their solid progress in the North Group so far. Their objective; to reach a third successive Finals Day at Edgbaston.
“To get to Finals Day for a third successive year would be a fantastic achievement,” he said. “You have got to keep improving and I think people see us a little bit differently now after our success in the competition, so to keep succeeding is very difficult.
“You need a bit of luck, but if we get that and can peak at the right time then, fingers crossed, we will be in another Finals Day.”