Sport director Ashley Giles expressed pride in his squad despite Birmingham Bears having to settle for runners-up spot in the NatWest T20 Blast.
On their third Finals Day appearance in four years, the Bears were beaten by 22 runs in the final by Notts Outlaws.
But while paying tribute to the Outlaws’ impressive display to lift the trophy, Giles admitted he is excited about the future after seeing the rapid advances made by the Bears in T20 cricket this summer.
“Credit to Notts, they played excellent T20 cricket,” he said. “The partnership between Samit Patel and Brendan Taylor was extraordinary. At 35 for three, we had them, but they wrestled it back.
It’s not just a question of trying to keep pace, it’s about trying to get ahead. That’s what we will be trying to do. and I think we are building a squad capable of doing it.Ashley Giles
“They also bowled very well. Jake Ball looked a class act and how Harry Gurney didn’t get man of the match for four for 17 in such a high-scoring game I don’t know.
“But I am really proud that we got that close and there are very good signs for us. We are playing a different game to the T20 cricket we were playing just a few weeks ago and I am really proud that we have been able to make that transition.
“The four guys at the top order have come in and done really good things, Olly Stone has come back from long-term injury and played a big role and our two overseas guys have been fantastic. We put a lot of work into getting Grant and Colin and they have repaid us massively. With their experience alongside our young crop of young players it has given us a really nice balance.
“Ed Pollock has been the find of the year, internally. He has come in and played brilliantly and with no fear and now we need to continue in that mode.”
Now Giles and first-team coach Jim Troughton, having steered the Bears to runners-up spot in their first Blast campaign in charge, intend to keep the team improving and challenging – to hopefully go one better and lift the trophy in 2018.
“Both forms of white-ball cricket are moving on so quickly, year by year, and we have got to embrace that,” Giles said. “This was the highest-scoring Finals Day which shows how the game is moving on.
“It’s not just a question of trying to keep pace, it’s about trying to get ahead. That’s what we will be trying to do. and I think we are building a squad capable of doing it.”