NatWest T20 Blast: Aaron Finch 'can inspire battle-ready Yorkshire Vikings'
'Dynamic Australian a key ingredient in bid to improve T20 form...'
By Oli Burley - @OliBurley
Last Updated: 15/05/14 3:10pm
I'll never forget the carnival atmosphere at Finals Day in Cardiff in 2012 - it was a fantastic day out for the Yorkshire fans, who had never been to a Finals Day before. There was a real buzz around the ground and it was brilliant to play in front of those crowds even if we couldn't quite get the job done against Hampshire.
It would mean a hell of a lot to get to Finals Day this year and win the competition. I enjoyed it in 2012 - the experience epitomises why you want to be involved in in professional cricket - and with more games being played on Friday there should be a really good atmosphere at every ground we go to, which will be a really exciting.
But our T20 and one-day cricket was generally poor last year and that was one of the things we wanted to address on our pre-season tour of Sri Lanka. We played four T20s in two days against some first-class opposition and worked on a number of areas, winning the first three games before losing to the Sri Lanka Development squad.
There were several missing ingredients last year. Mitchell Starc and David Miller had outstanding competitions in 2012 and we didn't replace them. David Miller dropped out a week before the T20s and no-one really stood up and replaced those stats so that was a factor. Our death bowling and the way we executed our yorkers was a little bit off from where we wanted to be and, from a batting point of view, there were too many dot balls. We didn't hit enough holes at the death.
Aaron Finch's arrival should certainly help in that department. He's such an explosive batsman - one of the most dynamic batsmen in world cricket at the minute - that there's no knowing how many he could get if he bats through. He's a box office player, as England found out when he hit 156 at the Rose Bowl and has plenty of T20 experience with the Melbourne Renegades.
Kane Williamson is different in the way that he goes about things but he's a good all-round cricketer who has played over 50 T20s for New Zealand. He showed in the recent T20 World Cup that he can be explosive and he was pretty much the only player to stand up and perform against Sri Lanka. He also adds another dimension with the ball and in T20 it's important to have as many options as possible.
The team has really embraced the concept of the Vikings since it was introduced last year - particularly Ryan Sidebottom, who thinks that he looks like one.
No-one hits it further in our squad than Johnny Bairstow and Gary Ballance. They both like to clear the front leg and hit it out of the ground. It gets pretty competitive, though, in practice when we set a bowling machine up and see who can hit the longest ball. We practice batting at a range of speeds to try to replicate some of the bowlers that you might be playing against in the next game so it might be trying to hit a slower ball for six or trying to hit a 90mph yorker for six.
We're practising new skills all the time. So many batsmen play ramp shots and reverse sweeps in world cricket now and we're trying to teach that as a club right down to an Academy level, right down to under 12s and under 13s so when they do eventually get the nod to play first team cricket they've got the skills to embrace the culture of T20 cricket.
My perfect walk-on music would probably be something from Rocky. I definitely wouldn't let Steve Pattinson pick me a track or I'd end up with something classical. During the 2012 Champions League we walked out to Ghostbusters, which went down well; we aren't afraid of anything!
My favourite 'Bumbleism' comes from the last-but-one World Twenty20 when 'Wallop' was born. I hope he's shouting that plenty when we're batting.
Andrew Gale was speaking ahead of the NatWest T20 Blast season. Blast off is Friday 16th May. Tickets can be purchased from www.ecb.co.uk/natwestt20blast.
Watch 39 NatWest T20 Blast fixtures, including a Middlesex double header in the first weekend, live on Sky Sports this summer - starting with Friday's opening clash between Nottinghamshire Outlaws and Lancashire Lightning. For full details click here.