Chris Benjamin says the Bears are "buzzing" ahead of Thursday night's Vitality Blast quarter-final against Hampshire Hawks at Edgbaston (6.30pm).
The Hawks stand between the Bears and a place at Finals Day at Edgbaston on July 16. A powerful unit, they present a tough obstacle, but ace batter Benjamin and his top order colleagues will go into the winner-takes-all showdown with confidence high.
The Bears have topped 200 seven times in this year’s competition, peaking with a Blast record 261 against Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge. There has been some sensational batting and Benjamin attributes that heavily to the mindset instilled by coach Mark Robinson and captain Carlos Brathwaite.
“The confidence and backing we have received from the coach and captain has been massive,” he said. “From the start they have told us to go out and play positive cricket and play freely. They encourage us to take the aggressive option and we’ve all taken that on board and it has come off.
“It helps to do that if you know in the back of your mind that you have got players around you who are in great form. It is a very explosive line-up with Stirlo and Davo opening and then the middle order has been on fire this year with Hainy, Hosey, myself and now Dan Mousley has been unbelievable in the last couple of game. Then we still have Carlos and we all know about his ability to hit sixes, especially in big games.
“It’s all set up to be a cracker. It’s fantastic that we managed to get a game at Edgbaston and the boys are buzzing that we are playing at home with loads of Bears fans behind us.
“We lost in the quarter final last year so I was at Finals Day as a spectator and remember sitting in the crowd and thinking ‘wow, I didn’t realise how epic this event is.’ That just made me even more hungry to get there this year. It would be one of the dream days so we will be gunning hard on Thursday to make it come true.”
Benjamin, 23, has very quickly become one of the most dangerous batsman in the Blast. In 25 T20 games in his career he averages a remarkable 43.91 at a strike-rate of 157. T20 totals and scoring rates continue to go up and up. So, as the fours and sixes rain down, does he feel just a little bit sorry for those poor bowlers?
“I wouldn’t say I feel sorry for them – I’m a batter!” he laughed. “But a lot of credit has to go to our bowling unit this year. Yes we’ve put on some big scores but our bowlers have also managed to defend some averages scored at times.
“Olly Stone has been brilliant. It’s great to have him back bowling rockets and the spin twins of Danny Briggs and Jake Lintott sometimes go under the radar but their stats every game, taking wickets at key times, are fantastic.”