YORKSHIRE VIKINGS may have already struck an early blow ahead of the NatWest T20 Blast, but skipper Andrew Gale is confident they will put their rivals to the sword now battle is commencing.
The Vikings start their twenty-over campaign – with a whole new format featuring nine teams in two separate leagues – at home to Northants Steelbacks tonight (5.30pm).
Their marquee recruit of this – and any – t20 campaign, explosive Aussie master-blaster and world record holder Aaron Finch, will miss out on an introduction to his new Yorkshire public.
The Melbournian is currently on t20 business in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
But the Yorkshire club expects him to be available for the clash at Birmingham Bears next Friday.
While the signing of the world-record Antipodean, who smashed a truly awesome 156 off just 63 balls in Australia’s t20 victory over England at the Rose Bowl last August, is a massive statement of intent by Yorkshire and a move which has left fans salivating at the prospect, Gale is sure Vikings have other serious weapons in their arsenal.
Some positive work in the shortened format over the close-season yielded positive results in Sri Lanka with Gale expecting last season’s poor campaign when they failed to progress past the group stages after representing England in the t20 Champions League over in South Africa in the autumn of 2012 to be fully addressed and rectified.
Gale said: “The lads have certainly got the bit between their teeth for t20 this year.
“Last year was disappointing and we need to make sure we are competing in t20 consistently.
“The signing of Aaron Finch obviously shows we don’t just want to be going through the motions in this competition.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think Finchy will be there for the first game, but he will be there for the rest of them and we need to make sure we hit the ground running in this competition.
“Twenty20 is very much about momentum and if we can start well and get out of the blocks, you can go win four, five, six or seven games in a row and take plenty of confidence.
“I don’t think we have any new plans and we had our same plans last year as we had the year before when we played in the Champions League.
“It’s a matter of performing your skills under pressure and making sure you execute your plans. That what we didn’t do. So it’s not about new plans, more executing the plans already there.”
Yorkshire are in a nine-strong group also containing Steelbacks, Birmingham Bears, Derbyshire Falcons, Durham Jets, Lancashire Lightning, Leicestershire Foxes, Nottinghamshire Outlaws and Worcestershire Rapids.
Four teams from each group qualify to the knock-out stages, with finals day taking place at Edgbaston on August 23.
The schedule, which sees the majority of group games played on Friday evenings, is better from a supporters’ prespective, according to Gale and while it will ensure a packed schedule for players at times, it’s a competition he is relishing.
He added:”The scheduling is better from a supporters’ view.
“Players-wise, it’s been a tough schedule; probably getting one day off a week and the lads training on Friday’s and Saturday’s for County Championship matches on Sunday and now with t20 games thrown in.
“It’s difficult, but from a supporters point of view, the crowds are better in the Championship and hopefully we will get good ones in the t20 and we are all looking forward to it.”