Alex Gidman says Worcestershire Rapids will be doing all they can to “keep evolving and keep improving” for when they launch their defence of the Vitality Blast with two games in 24 hours – including a home derby with Birmingham Bears.

New First Team Coach Gidman and Alan Richardson played a major role in the Rapids white ball success last summer in the Royal London One-Day Cup and then the Blast as Worcestershire emerged as T20 champions for the first time.

The former Gloucestershire captain is aware opponents will pay more attention to the Rapids after their superb success at Edgbaston on finals day in mid September but says the players are “hungry” to improve.

Worcestershire will open their 14 game North Group programme on Thursday July 19 when they take on Notts Outlaws – the 2017 champions – at Trent Bridge.

Then the following day (June 19) they will do battle with the Bears at Blackfinch New Road and looking to repeat last summer’s success over their rivals.

The Rapids won crucial One-Day Cup and Blast group matches at Edgbaston to seal their spot in the knockout stages of both competitions.

Gidman said: “Am I optimistic of making a strong defence of the Blast? We will be trying. Seventeen other counties will be trying to win it as well. It is a mistake in any competition to make predictions and assume things.

“But all I can do is assure our supporters and members that we will be looking to improve again and we will be trying our darnest when that competition comes around but there is a lot to happen between now and then.

“Someone I hugely respect said ‘you can never predict what is going to happen in this game’ and that is something I live by on a daily basis but we will definitely be trying very hard.

“Is it important to keep evolving? All of a sudden from being a team that probably all the counties respected, and thought we were a good team, now being champions we are the best team in the country.

“We will get a lot more attention as regards to how we play and what our strengths and weaknesses are.

“We need to keep evolving, keep trying to get better, and I know with the brief conversations I’ve had with the guys so far, they are all aware of that and hungry to try and do that.

“Rest assured we will be trying our best to evolve and improve.

“One thing we did in that competition very well was the basics. It is important we don’t try and find a miracle way of playing all of a sudden.

“It’s about doing the basics as well as we can and just doing those better and making some tweaks here and there to try and improve those basics and those fundamentals of the game which put us in good stead last year.”

The Blast group fixtures will be staged during the second half of July and through August.

The quarter-finals will take place from September 4 to 7 with the final a week later than this year on Saturday, September 21.