Jeetan Patel is delighted that Grant Elliott and Colin de Grandhomme will be back alongside him in the Birmingham Bears squad for the 2018 Vitality Blast.

Patel believes the return of his fellow Black Caps stars gives the Bears team the continuity you need to become a “powerhouse” in the format.

Elliott and De Grandhomme were key figures last season as the Bears reached their third Finals Day in four years. The two all-rounders showed their class on and off the field, Elliott also skilfully captaining the side while Dr Grandhomme underlined his reputation as one of world T20s most explosive hitters.

“It’s great that the two guys will be back with us in 2018,” said Patel. “They are top-class players and it also gives us real continuity in the team.

“That’s what you need because achieving success is all about consistency as we showed last year when we all knew our roles and played some really good T20 cricket to get to the Finals Day.

“Grant is just a world-class performer and Colin’s batting can turn any game on its head. He can hit his first ball for six and that’s great firepower to have in the middle order. It’s up to our other batters to put down platforms so that Colin and our other hitters can go in there and play with freedom.”

Patel is proud of the Bears’ excellent recent record in the Blast but knows that, if that record is to be maintained, they can’t afford to stand still in the fast-evolving world of T20.

“It was great to reach Finals Day again last year, though only up to a point because we ended up coming second,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter what we have achieved so far, it’s all about the future. We have got to keep finding ways to make ourselves better so that we can turn ourselves into a real powerhouse in T20.

“We did well last year but with that comes challenges. Ed Pollock, Adam Hose and Dom Sibley batted superbly but the opposition have had a bit more of a look at them now and will be trying to figure out how to bowl at them.

“The challenge for them, and for all of us, is to always keep improving and try to stay one step ahead.”