Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
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After four-and-a-bit days of Bazball at Edgbaston, Bearsball is back. England may have spent the last month tearing up the record books under Brendon McCullum in Test cricket but in the T20 Blast, Warwickshire have not been far behind in their Birmingham Bears guise this season.
In the first 19 years of T20 cricket, only one team worldwide (Somerset in 2018) had ever made 200-plus five times in a single season. But in the group stages of this year's Blast, the Bears have broken that barrier seven times in 14 games - including a competition-record 261 for 2 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
They have scored at 9.92 runs per over to date, the second-highest rate by a team in any given season in T20 history. They finished top of the North Group for the first time since 2015 (when McCullum was their overseas star) and their reward is an Edgbaston quarter-final against Hampshire on Thursday night, in theory the first of three home knockout games on the way to a first title since 2014.
At the heart of this remarkable batting form has been a middle-order engine room comprising of Sam Hain, Adam Hose and Chris Benjamin, who started the season at No. 4, 5 and 6 but have shifted up to No. 3, 4 and 5 since Dan Mousley replaced Jacob Bethell in the XI. All three have averaged 40-plus while scoring at a shade under 10 runs per over but Hose has been the standout: his 541 runs put him third in the country, averaging 60.11 with a strike rate of 165.44.
Adam Hose and Chris Benjamin celebrate victory against Northants•Getty Images
"It probably reflects the mindset shift that we've taken into this season," Hose tells ESPNcricinfo. "We've managed to stay clear with our intent, freedom and clarity of mind, which we've taken into each game. Although you want to take responsibility as a batter, you look down our line-up and you know that if it's not your night, it's going to be someone else's."
There have been testing moments, none more so than against Yorkshire when they were bundled out for 101. "It was important to remember that the brand of cricket we're trying to play isn't necessarily conducive to consistency," Hose says. "We haven't carried any baggage from those poor performances into the following game."
He credits Carlos Brathwaite, their captain, as a key figure in creating a culture of trust and belief in a deep line-up - one which sees Brathwaite himself carded to bat as low as No. 7. "We've been in pretty tricky situations at times, three or four down early doors, but we've still continued with that intent."
Hose explains his own form as the product of a renewed focus on his mental wellbeing, after a quiet 2021 season where he became "outcome-focused… I was worrying about the end result without thinking about how I was going to get there". He meditates daily, does yoga twice a week and has resolved to "approach each day with a smile on my face".
"It's been really fun," he says. "I had a bit of a lightbulb moment after last summer where I felt like something had to change. I stripped it right back through the winter and wanted to get back to playing with freedom and a smile on my face. Fortunately, I've found myself in that position this year.
"I don't just want to be Adam the sportsman, or Adam the cricketer. I want to be a well-rounded person and individual. I've focused on mental routines to keep me focused in the middle and have tried to strip everything back to enjoying myself, playing good cricket with my mates. It's still a journey, but that stuff has been huge for me."
Hose has been empowered to play shots that he had previously reserved for the nets, too. "I've always had reverse-sweeps and scoops in the locker, but haven't had that confidence to execute them. The main part of my game is still focused around good, strong, solid shots but at certain points in the game, why can't I use them?"
Hose launches Dane Paterson for six during the Bears' record total of 261 for 2•PA Images/Getty
He has been rewarded with an England Lions call-up for next week's 50-over games against South Africa, where he will be reunited with his ex-Somerset team-mates Tom Abell and Tom Banton, and will play for Northern Superchargers in the Hundred after missing out on last year's competition through injury.
He remains frustrated by a lack of red-ball opportunities - he last played a first-class game in 2019 - and contract talks with Warwickshire are ongoing, with his deal up at the end of the year. "I don't want to say too much but what I want to make clear is that I'm desperate to be the best cricketer I can be in all formats," he says. "There's a lot to decide over the next few months but for the time being, I'm focused on getting us to Finals Day."
Hampshire are the team standing in the way, buoyed by James Vince's stellar form and a run of nine wins in their last 10. Not that Hose thinks the Bears' attack - Olly Stone and Henry Brookes' pace, Jake Lintott and Danny Briggs' complementary left-arm spin and Brathwaite's change-ups - will be daunted.
"We've been good at focusing on ourselves. We analyse the opposition and where they can be dangerous but without forgetting how dangerous we can be as an opponent. They'll be looking at our bowling line-up expecting a good challenge. If we get Vincey and [Ben] McDermott out early, hopefully we can set up a good game from there."