All-rounder Ben Mike is confident he can build on an impressive week of Vitality Blast action which has seen him kick-start his Yorkshire career after a challenging start.
Mike has played a key role in the county’s capture of three T20 wins in a row, claiming six wickets with his pace bowling added to a lusty blow or two with the bat in hand.
It has set the 24-year-old up ideally for a first return to former county Leicestershire tomorrow, with Yorkshire bidding for a fourth straight win at the Uptonsteel County Ground, Grace Road (6.30pm).
Mike joined Yorkshire on a three-year contract from the Foxes ahead of this season, though he joined on loan early last September and played one Championship match.
He hasn’t managed to break into the Championship team at the start of this season yet, admitting: “In all honesty, at the start of this year, I haven’t performed as well I wanted to – I wanted to be playing more first-team cricket. That’s on myself.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough. It’s been different. That’s no fault of anybody else’s, it’s more myself and maybe trying to put too much pressure on myself.
“I wanted to impress the coaches and the fans coming into a bigger club.
“But now I’m happy to be contributing.
“I feel like I’ve settled nicely having put a few performances in.
“Not that I didn’t feel settled at the start because the boys have been very welcoming and the coaches have been great.
“But it helps when you’re winning, and I feel happy with where I’m at.”
Mike claimed a wicket and hit a quick-fire 15 at a crucial time of the Yorkshire innings in the win at Nottinghamshire last Tuesday, he claimed 2-31 in the Roses win over Lancashire on Thursday and claimed 3-39 against Derbyshire at Headingley yesterday.
“I take wickets, and I think I have good death skills,” he continued. “I probably need to be better through the middle, as it showed against Derby. With the bat, I think I’m capable of big runs.”
Mike is a powerful striker of the ball and finished the win off against the Falcons with a straight six of Pakistani quick Zaman Khan: “It was in my area. I couldn’t resist,” he smiled.
“We have a great batting order. At Leicester, I was used a bit earlier in the David Wiese role you saw against Derby.
“I’m happy to come in and contribute at a good strike rate, to hit sixes and be fearless. That’s what Ottis (Gibson) has been banging into us. Be positive.”
Immediately after yesterday’s win over the Falcons, Dawid Malan spoke about how Yorkshire’s mindset had changed in the last week – how they had taken the focus away from the end result after three straight defeats to start their North Group campaign.
“Shan (Masood) talks about it a lot,” said Mike. “It’s, ‘Stick to the process, almost don’t look for the result’.
“If we control what we can do in the game, the results should naturally happen.”
As for Malan, who has scored three fifties in as many games, Mike said: “He’s unbelievable. Last year, in the Hundred, he was unreal when I was at the Trent Rockets with him.
“I love watching him bat. Let’s not tempt fate, hopefully he keeps on going.”
Leicestershire sit bottom of the North Group table with one win from six games and five defeats. Their win came yesterday by seven wickets at Durham as they chased 169.
It was their first win since beating Yorkshire at Headingley in the Championship during the opening week of the season.
“We owe them one from there,” said Mike, before smiling when asked the question about how it’s going to feel returning to Grace Road and whether he is expecting a bit of stick.
“At the first game this season, the (Leicester) lads were like, ‘Told you, you shouldn’t have left’.
“It wasn’t difficult (decision to leave) because I wanted to take my cricket to the next level, so that’s why I came here. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, having to fight for my place, which I still do in the red ball. But it will only benefit me in the long run.”
Captained by Lewis Hill, the Foxes have already fielded three overseas players in this season’s Blast – South African all-rounder Wiaan Mulder and fast bowlers Naveen-ul-Haq and Naseem Shah from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The latter two played against Durham with Mulder injured.
This fixture marks the halfway point in Yorkshire’s North Group campaign.