Captain Moeen Ali felt Worcestershire Rapids produced a performance worthy of a side which had won the Vitality Blast last season as they launched their defence in fine style with a 28 run win over Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge.
Ed Barnard’s fine all-round performance – a T20 career best 42 not out off 19 balls, the wicket of dangerman Alex Hales and a stunning catch earned him the man of the match award.
But England ICC World Cup winner Moeen also made a major impact in his first Worcestershire appearance of the campaign, picking up four wickets for five runs in 11 balls.
Moeen, interviewed after the game on Sky Sports, said: “Where was that game won? The way Ed (Barnard) and Coxy (Ben Cox) finished off our innings gave us a bit of momentum and I thought we bowled really well on that wicket. It suited our bowlers perfectly.
“Ed is a very good cricketer, one of quite a few in our team. He is a great all-rounder in our side. He bats, bowls and fields brilliantly.
“We’ve got a few guys who can do that and it always helps in T20 when you bat long and it is something we’ve been working on over the last couple of years.
“Are we feeling an extra expectation of being the holders? Definitely – and I thought tonight was a very good start.
“I’m going to say to the guys it was a performance of a side which won the competition last season.
“We have a lot of belief in our side, a lot of confidence, and are a team that is quietly confident. We try and do the right things as much as we can.
“We have different options with the ball which is important and Daryl Mitchell missed out tonight who would have bowled really well on that wicket.
“We have a decent combination for these sort of wickets. We can get stuck on real flat wickets at times but we have batted well on those sort of wickets, the likes of Guppy (Martin Guptill) and Fergie (Callum Ferguson) who are very good batters up top.”
In terms of his own bowling, Moeen said: “I’m happy with the way the ball is coming out. I’ve been working with Saqlain (Mushtaq) quite a bit on my bowling.
“It was a nice wicket to bowl on. I’m pretty happy.”