Birt feeling good despite the pressure

Taking THAT dismissal on the chin

TRAVIS Birt regrets the pressure he put himself under in the second edition of the Big Bash League, but with a Hobart Hurricanes squad around him that he believes is the best ever assembled, he is expecting a more enjoyable time of it this season.

After a dominant first season, in which he scored 345 runs at a strike rate of 168.29 and saw him gain Australian selection, things dried up last summer when he could only manage 116 at a strike rate of 110.47.

"I'm feeling OK at the moment, not great, but I'm not one of those guys who can come out and just hit it out of the park from ball one," Birt said following his 27 from 20 balls in Hobart's record-breaking win over Brisbane.

"I still think I can contribute and I was starting to feel really good, which added to the element of frustration with my dismissal, but I am feeling really good.

"I shoudn't have felt that pressure last year, but it is the pressure that I put on myself, but I am aiming to be more consistent.

"I firmly believe this is the best squad we've assembled so far as we've covered all bases, with guys like Boycey (spinner Cam Boyce), (paceman) Joe Mennie, (Jonathan) Wells, Evan Gulbis and Ben Laughlin."

It's a team with enough firepower in it to chase down a competition high 209, thanks to Ben Dunk (67 off 33), Jon Wells (36 off 20) and the late- hitting of Ben Hilfenhaus (10 off 2).

"When you are chasing down those big totals there is only one way you can get it, by going out and playing your shots and it frees you up a bit" Birt said.

"The smaller totals can be more difficult than those larger ones. You'd still take 110 (to chase), but it does free you up."

The Hurricanes, who have taken three points from their first two outings, take on the Melbourne Renegades at Bellerive Oval today, a side that boasts such quality as Aaron Finch, fresh off a 51-ball 81 against the heat, paceman James Pattinson, spinning legend Muttiah Muralitharan and England power- hotter Jos Buttler.

Birt, who believed a dominant BBL could get him back into the Australian selectors' minds, said plans were in place to curtail the Renegades.

"Everyone certainly has their weaknesses, and anyone who says they haven't is lying, so we have those areas that we will target."

Hobart has named an unchanged squad.

HOBART: Tim Paine (c), Xavier Doherty, Aiden Blizzard, Travis Birt, Doug Bollinger, Cameron Boyce, Ben Dunk, Evan Gulbis, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ben Laughlin, Shoaib Malik, Owais Shah and Jon Wells.

MELBOURNE RENEGADES: Aaron Finch (c), Fawad Ahmed, Jos Buttler, Tom Cooper, Matthew Gale, Daniel Harris, Michael Hill, Muttiah Muralitharan, Peter Nevill, Aaron O'Brien, James Pattinson, Nathan Rimmington and Ben Rohrer.

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