Ben Cox says the Worcestershire Rapids players are reaping the benefits of being encouraged to play with freedom during their fine start to the 2023 Vitality Blast campaign.
The keeper-batter had made several important late-order contributions during the opening phase of the tournament and climbed into the top three of Worcestershire’s all-time T20 leading run-scorers.
He says being to perform while relaxed is bringing the best out of the Rapids, who head the North Group after the opening five games.
The Rapids are now gearing up for an away double header with Lancashire Lightning at Blackpool on Wednesday (5pm start) and Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley on Friday (6.30pm).
Cox said: “Everyone needs confidence. Confidence comes from the whole group and the message coming down, we’ve got a new coaching set-up, and we’ve got a clear message, we are trying to give players confidence.
“You back yourself, your skills, your plans. It’s on you. It’s a freedom, I guess, that we’ve relished in the five games.
“If you get that message, you don’t feel the pressure as much to get a score or go at less than six an over if you are a bowler.
“If you are getting that backing, then you can almost relax a little bit and when you relax, you obviously play your best.”
Cox top-scored with an unbeaten 46 against Northamptonshire Steelbacks on Sunday and has now scored 2119 T20 runs for Worcestershire with only Daryl Mitchell (2310) and Moeen Ali (2802) now ahead of him.
He is enjoying the challenge of either playing a supporting role to whoever is established the other end of demonstrating his own ability and power to clear the ropes and score freely.
He said: “It is nice to get a bit of form and a few runs under the belt. It’s been mainly 20s and 30s at the moment and on Sunday it was nice to spend a bit more time in the middle and be a bit more fluent.
“It’s about trying to build an innings, and to try and play what is in front of me. A couple of times I’ve had to bat with the guy the other end and just give him the strike.
“I’m just trying to compliment and play a knock that the team needs in that position, in that scenario.
“Sunday was a bit different. I was able to get a bit of time at the crease as opposed to five overs at the end.
“I managed to give myself a bit of time, get in, and I’m just glad I managed to get a score. It wasn’t a winning score in the end but nice to get some runs.
“It’s nice to know I can knock it in the gaps and try and get back for two, but to have both roles in terms of playing the situation, running well, and then be able to have the power to clear the ropes.
“You’ve just got to pick and choose when to use it.”
Assistant head Coach, Kadeer Ali, said: “Ben Cox has been really good in the tournament. He has gone in during the back end of the innings and every game has had a good little cameo and got a beautiful 40 plus on Sunday.
“He has been striking the ball really nicely and he works hard at his game.”
Cox says the Rapids still have momentum despite their four-game winning streak being ended in the last over by the Steelbacks.
He said: “I said afterwards that although we lost we played a good game. It’s not like we bombed out for 120 and we start looking at what we should have done differently.
“Saif Zaib played a special innings and I don’t think we would have done a lot differently. We’ve still got momentum. Even though it is a loss, we will still roll on to Wednesday and two big games in a row.
“It’s been a good start to get four wins out of four to start with and, to eight points on the board already at this stage after five games, we would have snapped your hand off at the start of the year.
“There is a long way to go in the competition, let’s move onto Wednesday.”