It’s 10 years since the Bears’ thrilling T20 Blast win and we’re marking the anniversary by talking to some of the players involved in that memorable campaign.

Jeetan Patel led the Bears T20 bowling attack in 2014. The off spinner took 25 wickets, topping the tournament’s bowling charts, and remains the Club’s all-time leading T20 bowler.

From Wellington to Warwickshire, ‘Jeets’ made Edgbaston his home for more than a decade and his 2014 heroics will live long in the memory.

Headingley, 14 July 2014. Only victory against Yorkshire Vikings would keep alive Bears’ hopes of qualifying for the NatWest T20 Blast knockout stages.

Jeetan Patel knew the challenge that lay ahead. And of the need to quickly assert control and subdue the notoriously lively Western Terrace.

He would go on to bowl three of the best balls of his career, in consecutive deliveries, to write his name in T20 history with the first hattrick of the new-look NatWest Blast.

A quicker ball caught out fellow Kiwi Kane Williamson lbw before he deceived Andrew Gale and Adam Lyth, both bowled, as Jeets tore through the Vikings middle order.

In his own words he “celebrated like a maniac”.

“Everything clicked for three balls,” said Patel, now England Men’s Spin Bowling Coach. “I’d never got a professional hattrick before so I was pretty chuffed and I let the Western Terrace know!

“It’s 10 years ago but it still brings a smile to my face when I think back to what we did and how we did it. It was a load of fun.”

Fun, teamwork, and unexpected. The three words Patel thinks best describe the Bears 2014 Blast campaign that appeared extinguished midway through North Group qualifying.

He added: “The friendships, the moments we had. Good fun moments but also those that really hurt and how we bounced back. That’s what I remember the most.

“It was a group of guys we trusted and loved. It was exciting to come to work. Every job you’re in, someone at work makes you happy to be there, makes you laugh. I had a dressing room full of those people.

“There were some high stress moments but we found a way. That’s where teamwork comes in. We won from positions we had no right to. And Essex away in the quarter finals, they don’t lose at home…but we did it. Choppy (captain Varun Chopra) put on a masterclass.

“Throughout the tournament everyone did their bit.

“And at Yorkshire we were on the ropes before Laurie Evans played a blinder. He must have done as I got a hattrick, but he got Player of the Match!

“Laurie was still finding his way at the time, a kid learning the game, so to play an important knock like that was empowering for him. His journey started that night I believe. He had amazing power, it was getting him to unleash it. He could hit bombs out of nowhere. He went on to be one of the best finishers in the world.”

Patel, now 43, took a total of 141 T20 wickets for the Bears with an economy rate of 6.97.

He believes 2014 was the year bowlers came into their own as an attacking, match winning force in T20 and not merely seen as a unit to defend totals.

“Our bowling unit were match winners that year,” added Patel. “Traditionally it was the batters who won games and the bowlers, especially spinners, had the job of defending a score and limiting the damage.

“But we were bowling teams out, setting the tempo and winning games. I wouldn’t say we were ahead of the curve but the balance of power was changing and bowlers coming into their own.

“I was bowling really well in 2014, probably the best of my career. I don’t know why. Maybe a culmination of skills leaned or that I was safe and sound mentally and physically.

“I’d been bowling well at Championship level and it flowed from there. I felt I knew how to get guys out. Felt I knew how players would play.

“But we were very much a team. We had an intensity on the field and enjoyed ourselves off it. We were experienced enough but also young enough to enjoy all the fun stuff about cricket. We had a good connection in the group and in those crunch moments that was crucial.

“I remember standing out there with Amby (Tim Ambrose) when we qualified for the quarter finals. We looked at each other as if to say ‘we need to go again’. We were tired. But we knew we had three games left to win the title. We’d not done it before, so let’s give it a good crack.

“People stood up at the right time and we won that trophy out of nowhere. They were great times.”

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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