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Home help could be crucial in Ashes.

WE have seen some brilliant Ashes series in recent years and I expect the one starting at Edgbaston today to be no different.

I think it's going to be a classic series in terms of drama with lots of twists and turns.

There is no doubt that both sides have quality bowling attacks and the question is who can make the most runs under pressure? Both sides have struggled with the bat and that was illustrated last week - England in their Test Match with Ireland and the Australians in their internal warm-up game at Hampshire.

England and bowler Olly I think home advantage may be the decisive factor, and no more so than in this first Test.

Edgbaston has truly become a fortress for the England team in recent years, and I spoke to Olly Stone during the Test against Ireland and he said the group were extremely excited to be returning to Birmingham.

England seem to find an extra gear at Edgbaston and if they can go 1-0 up, it will be huge.

In terms of Birmingham Bears action, I've been really pleased with our start to the Vitality Blast.

The washout against Worcestershire Rapids on our opening night was a disappointment because that Bears Stone would have been a great chance to assess just where we were in this competition against the defending champions.

Since then, we have put in two very good performances in front of big home crowds against Leicestershire Foxes and Derbyshire Falcons and, while it was disappointing to go down to defeat at Northamptonshire Steelbacks last Friday, it was a game when Duckworth-Lewis didn't do us many favours.

We showed when we were a outfit. Hopefully have plenty when we straps.

There has been a lot of very good performances throughout the team so far and Fidel Edwards, our loan signing from Hampshire, is certainly doing a fantastic job with the ball for us.

I was delighted we were able to sign Fidel because he has all the attributes to be a successful T20 bowler - he swings the ball, bowls at good pace, has a bounce in his locker and some good slower variations.

It's also a bonus that he won't have been seen by many teams in the northern group and is proving a real handful for batsman.

last year got it right, formidable we can of days hit our A word too for our overseas player Ashton Agar who has settled in brilliantly. Whenever you join a club as an overseas player at any level, it's important you integrate yourself into the group and Ashton has done exactly that.

He's also backed it up with great performances on the pitch, displaying great power and placement with the bat and a real cleverness when he is bowling.

So far, it seems that all the teams are capable of beating each other in the northern group and that means every ball of every match will be crucial in deciding which teams progress later this month.

We now have three games on the road in the space of six days and we are heading up to Nottinghamshire today to prepare for the game against the Outlaws tomorrow, before staying on the road to go to Yorkshire Vikings. If we can continue to play as we have done so far, there is every chance of a couple of positive results.

? Selco Builders Warehouse is the proud main sponsor of Birmingham Bears in the 2019 Vitality Blast and a partner of Warwickshire County Cricket Club. Selco is the UK's fastest-growing builders merchant with 66 branches across the UK, including Perry Barr, Stirchley, Tyburn, Tyseley, Solihull, Coventry, Dudley and Wolverhampton. With hundreds of trade brands always in stock and open for seven days and more than 80 hours a week, Selco's branches are firmly focused on helping local tradespeople complete their jobs as quickly and effectively as possible. Selco also has a strong digital presence, including Click 'N' Deliver, a 30-minute Click & Collect service and a free Project List app, which allows tradespeople to plan, manage and quote for all jobs - as well as complete purchases - through their smartphone. For more details, please visit www.selcobw.com.

? Captained by Jeetan Patel, the Birmingham Bears are hoping to continue their impressive record in recent seasons of the Blast, having qualified for three of the last four finals days and won the tournament in 2014. Tickets for all this season's seven group games at Edgbaston - which will also host Finals Day once again - are available at www.birmingham-bears.com

so

We showed last year when we got it right, we were a formidable outfit. Hopefully we can have plenty of days when we hit our straps.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 1, 2019
Words:786
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