Yorkshire head into this weekend’s inaugural six-team Abu Dhabi T20 competition a rejuvenated force, according to batsman Gary Ballance.
The Vikings head to the Gulf today alongside Auckland Aces, Boost Defenders, Hobart Hurricanes, Lahore Qalandars and the Titans.
They have been placed in the same group as Hobart and Lahore, with group matches on Thursday and Saturday.
The winners of the two groups face off in Saturday evening’s final at the Sheikh Zayed International Stadium, a venue Yorkshire know well from recent visits for champion county fixtures.
Yorkshire are the only team coming to the end of their season, but Ballance is part of a strong squad minus their England internationals.
Both county and player head into the event in good form.
Yorkshire finished the Championship campaign with two draws and two wins, including last week’s seven-wicket success over Worcestershire at New Road to seal fourth place in Division One. Prior to those quartet of games they were second bottom and in relegation danger.
Ballance, who has endured a “tough” summer, finished the four-day campaign with scores of 104, 5, 85, 30, 11, 194 and 60, contributing to an overall tally of 906 runs, the sixth best in the division. His 194 and 60 came at New Road.
The 28-year-old said: “The guys are looking forward to it. We’ve played some good cricket over the last few weeks and we can take some confidence from that.
“It’s been a tough season, so to finish with the form we have and a win is a very good feeling.
“I’m very happy with how I went, and it’s even better to contribute to a win.
“We didn’t play our best cricket early in the season, but we know that. We hit form at the right time, and we’ve played our best cricket when it mattered most.
“This last month has shown there is progression, but we have to work hard on being more consistent.
“I’m the same. I’ve finished the season well, but I’ve been a bit inconsistent.
“I know I still have work to do, which I’ll do after I’ve had a bit of time off.”
Ballance started the season as captain, but relinquished the role having suffered from fatigue-like symptoms in May.
“Parts of this season have been really tough, as tough as I can remember,” he said.
“But, as a cricketer, you go through ups and downs. It’s important to me that I try and stay as level as I can. I feel like I’ve bounced back nicely.”
The Abu Dhabi event is a reminder of Yorkshire’s involvement in the old Champions League event, when they qualified for the group stages in South Africa in 2012.
A young up and comer back then, Ballance enjoyed an impressive campaign with half-centuries against Trinidad and Tobago and Chennai Super Kings.
“I’d played a few years before that, but that summer and the few weeks out in South Africa definitely gave me a lot of confidence,” he added.
“We’ll be playing against some tough teams in Abu Dhabi, and hopefully I can do something similar. If we can create some more memories like that, it will be a great week.”
Yorkshire squad: Patterson c, Ballance, Bresnan, Brook, Carver, Coad, Kohler-Cadmore, Leaning, Lyth, Poysden, Shaw, Tattersall w, Thompson, Waite.