Steve Patterson wants consistency from his Yorkshire Vikings side as they bid for a maiden Vitality Blast title.
Seamer Patterson embarks on his first Blast campaign as captain having taken over the reins permanently from Gary Ballance last month.
He led the side as stand-in during the recent Royal London one-day Cup whilst Ballance was absent from the game with fatigue-like symptoms.
Yorkshire reached the semi-finals of that competition, boosting their confidence having been without their internationals for much of the competition.
Last season, the Vikings failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the Blast, despite posting scores over 200 in an innings on four occasions, including a record-breaking 260-4 in their final group game at home to Northamptonshire.
They won six of seven matches at Emerald Headingley, but they did not win away and lost games against Derbyshire, Durham, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.
Ahead of Thursday’s North Group opener against Durham at Headingley (6.30pm), Patterson said: “It’s a long competition. You won’t get knocked out in a week and won’t win it in a week.
“I think the key for us is to play consistent cricket. We don’t want to score 200 one week and then get 130 the next.
“Yes, it’s not the end of the world if we start slowly. It showed in the 50-over comp that we lost two out of three at the start and then qualified comfortably in the end.
“But we want to start well and be in a position to keep driving it and finish as high up in the group as we can.
“With the bat, we’ve shown the ability we have in the dressing room. If you allow those lads to express themselves, sky’s the limit with what we can achieve.
“That was shown in the final game against Northants last year when we got 260 odd. I definitely want the lads to go out and play with freedom.
“With the ball, it’s about being smart. If we combine the two together, we’ll be fine.”
Yorkshire will be without England internationals Adil Rashid, David Willey and Liam Plunkett for the first five games alongside New Zealand captain Kane Williamson. But they should all be available to face Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford on July 20.
“It’s going to be a bit of a challenge, but we have other players who showed in the 50-over quarter-final against Essex what they’re capable of,” said Patterson, who is looking forward to his first taste of T20 captaincy.
“It will be interesting. It’s a fast-paced game isn’t it? I’m sure it will be testing at times, but there’s a lot of senior lads around who will help me out if I need it.”
While Williamson plays nine of the 14 group games and a potential quarter-final, he will be the only overseas after the withdrawal of towering Australia quick Billy Stanlake, who had been signed.
“It’s disappointing because he looks to be a quality bowler, and I’m sure he would have had some real success for us,” said Patterson. “But we can’t control it.
“We have to trust the lads that we’ve got to perform, which they have done. If we all stick together, there’s no reason why we can’t have that success.”
Durham, who beat Yorkshire in the 2016 semi-final at Edgbaston before losing the final, will have England all-rounder Ben Stokes available as he looks to prove his fitness for international duty following a hamstring injury.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Matt Fisher make a timely return to the Yorkshire ranks after missing the last two Championship games on England Lions duty.