It was at the end of last season's Blast that Daniel Bell-Drummond realised he had to make changes to keep up as a T20 batsman.

His run aggregate and strike rate were lower than they had been in any of the last four years, and after a bright start to the season, Kent had fallen away badly to miss out on quarter-final qualification.

He was captain at the start of the season, with Joe Denly on England duty and Sam Billings injured, and had burdened himself with too much responsibility. "I was taking it upon myself to almost do two roles: trying to go hard at the start but also being there at the end," he says.

"That was never going to work. My strike rate wasn't great, and when Billings and the other big guns came back, I just didn't have the rhythm to flick the switch. I still got a decent number of runs but my strike rate was down - and I missed out in the Hundred [draft], as well. It drummed home that I need to step up a gear."

ALSO READ: Bell-Drummond continues fine form as Kent roll Essex

Over the winter, he returned to Randwick-Petersham CC in Sydney - best known as David Warner's home club - and started to work on his T20 hitting. "A lot of it was trial and error in the middle, really," he admits. After a pre-season hundred in an intra-squad T20 before lockdown, he spoke to the coaches about his new, ultra-attacking mindset, and decided it was worth trying out in the Blast.

His approach this year has been simple: rather than trying to bat through the innings as an anchor, Bell-Drummond has attacked more or less from the start, clearing his front leg to open up more scoring areas and getting into his "hitting positions" right from the outset.

The results have been obvious: six games into the Blast, he is averaging 51.4 while maintaining a 167.97 strike rate - a shade over 10 runs per over. His scores at the end of the Powerplay have been particularly notable: in the win over Essex he was 43 off 21 after the first six; in the tie at Middlesex, he had raced to 49 off 20. That run has come while captaining the side again, too, with Billings in the England bubble.

"I've always been seen as the one to bat through, and taken that on my shoulders," he says. "At times, that's hurt me a bit, strike rate-wise. I've made a conscious effort this year, trying to target the Powerplay as much as possible.

"T20 cricket is really moving forward in that sense; I don't want to get left behind. I've always batted next to Joe Denly and he's someone who can play all the shots from a normal, four-day base position, which I sometimes find quite difficult. I can play my shots, but I need to ball in certain areas.

"If I get into my hitting positions earlier, then I can access more of the ground. It's been about backing myself, and doing these things from the second or third over, not just when I'm on 30."

It would have been unfathomable three or four years ago that Bell-Drummond would miss out on selection in eight teams of the top white-ball players in the country, not least when he was blitzing 171 off 139 balls against Sri Lanka's A team for the Lions in 2016.

But he admits that he saw his snub at the Hundred draft coming. "Outwardly people may have expected to get picked up, but I wasn't happy with my strike rate. I was quite disappointed not to be there, but deep down, it wasn't actually a surprise."

Now, he says that his best route to England selection will be to continuing "trying to be the best I can be" and shedding the reputation of being a red-ball player looking to anchor an innings: "It's about trying to lose that tag, really, and showing that I can be destructive." He is a long way from international recognition just yet, but time is on his side at 27.

He also admits that as one of only a handful of black British players on the county circuit, the Black Lives Matter movement has been "at the forefront" of his mind this summer, but suggests that "it's more of a socio-economic thing in cricket".

"It's been a very political summer," he says. "I've tried not to talk too much about it while playing. You'd like there to be more kids coming through, and I know I'm one of not many black English players, but hopefully things pick up again. I'm always optimistic that things will move forward positively."

As for the task at hand in the Blast, he is desperate to ensure that Kent avoid last year's drop-off in the second half of the group stage. "Everything that went for us in the first seven games went against us in the second half, last year. We're quietly confident this year, with Denners back and hopefully Sam [Billings] joining later in the competition.

"We were in the quarters the year before, so it's not like we choke or anything like that. We've learned a lot from last year, and the guys are determined to get past that hurdle. We're quietly confident this year."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98