By Josh Cobb
OVERALL it has to be said that this year's Vitality Blast was a pretty frustrating campaign. We started out with high hopes and a fair bit of confidence around the group. We'd locked in two quality overseas signings with Faheem Ashraf and Dwaine Pretorius and had a few of our strong white ball players back who missed out last year through injury.
But ultimately, we got off to a fairly slow start and then when we did manage to win, our first two wins were followed by two washouts.
T20 cricket is often a lot about momentum and it's difficult to get going at times. Some of our wins we played excellent cricket but then we followed it up with a poor performance or getting rained off, we were never able to break out of the lower gears. Having four games rained off was frustrating for everyone, but we have to hold our hands up and say we were just really inconsistent throughout.
After last year's disappointment with the ball on the whole, there were some massive improvements made in that area this year. Faheem came in and bowled seriously fast and with some high quality death bowling skills, he was fantastic and looked unplayable at times. Ben Sanderson has excelled with the red ball this season and backed it up for us in the T20s. As one of our home-grown players he put his hand up and wanted to bowl in the death overs and he executed, he's worked hard and improved his skills during the winter to make that happen.
Another positive I'll take away was the impact of our spin bowling. Economies were excellent and that's probably been an area of struggle as well in recent times. Graeme White came back into the mix from his shoulder operation and to slot back in and offer what he did in the field and with the ball, he was very, very good. Rob Keogh's not bowled a lot this year so for him to grab his chance and bowl nicely too was great to see.
I think with the bat overall over the last few years our powerplays and starts have been outstanding, this year that was an area we could definitely have improved on. Not having Rich Levi available for the whole comp was obviously a bit of a blow with the power and experience he gives at the top. I think he only played in five completed games and then having other key players not having the competitions they know they can have, that was an area of struggle to a degree.
Though it's hard to be too critical or draw close comparisons to last year as the pitches this year just weren't as good as last year with the amount of cricket that's been played in England this summer.
For us to have gone right down to the back end of the competition with a sniff of qualification, despite all the setbacks, was something to be proud of. Sometimes it's important to look at the bigger picture and take away more than just the results on the night, looking back there's a fair bit we can be happy with.