JORDAN Thompson says he is relishing the challenge of helping Yorkshire’s Vitality Blast bowling attack become more potent in the powerplay overs.

The in-form all-rounder, 23, says the first six overs of the innings is an area which has been identified as one for improvement if the Vikings are to break their T20 title duck this season.

And the early signs are encouraging.

Though this season’s 10-game North Group reaches its halfway point tonight when they travel to face Durham at Emirates Riverside (6.30pm), Yorkshire have only got out on to the field in two games, winning one and losing one.

The other two have both been rained off, most recently on Wednesday night against Leicestershire at Emerald Headingley.

But, in the two games played - against Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire have struck six times combined in 12 powerplay overs.

They took four wickets in the win against Derby and two in defeat at Notts.

Last year, for example, they only claimed 17 powerplay wickets in 10 outings, only striking more than once in the first six overs on four occasions.

Champions Essex claimed 28 wickets in 13 outings - not a massive difference, but a difference nonetheless.

“Last year we fell foul of not taking wickets in the powerplay,” said Thompson, the left-handed batsman and seam bowler.

“It was something we wanted to improve this year, and something we felt I needed to improve personally as well.

“The best way of keeping the runs down is to take wickets. So if you’re not picking up wickets, you will go for runs, especially with only two fielders allowed outside the (30-yard) circle.

“I did okay in patches last year in T20. I scored a fifty early on at Derby, but I didn’t take as many wickets as I would have liked to.

“We spoke about that in the winter. Because I’ve got so many variations with the ball and always back myself to bowl them, I was maybe trying to use them too much, and at points where I didn’t really need to.

“Maybe when we had the batsman under pressure, I might release it with a ball I didn’t need to bowl.

“That was a result of trying to take wickets more than anything.

“But this year, we’ve taken six (powerplay wickets) in the two games we’ve played so far.

“That’s something which takes significant pressure off through the middle, and then you can go through your variations a bit more.”

Thompson continued: “I might bowl one or two overs in the powerplay. And when you are in that period, you have to keep it simple because batsmen are going to come at you.

“I don’t mind the powerplay. I’ve not got natural pace like a Matthew Fisher has, who tries to swing it and nick people off, but I enjoy the challenge of doing it differently.

“And it’s my responsibility to learn and get better in the powerplay.

“I did it well at stages last year and not so well at others. The big thing for me now is to find consistency in that period.”

Thompson has arguably been Yorkshire’s player of the season so far, especially in the four-day Bob Willis Trophy competition, taking 10 wickets and scoring 172 runs in four appearances.

Having only played two four-day games previously, he wasn’t actually due to start the shortened summer in the first-team, until Matthew Waite suffered a lat’ muscle (shoulder) injury the day before the opening round clash at Durham.

Thompson took five wickets in the match and has not looked back since, contributing with bat, ball and in the field.

“It’s been a strange summer for everybody, and I only got that chance due to Waitey’s injury,” he said. “But I expect myself to come in and be able to perform at first-team level, and I’ve done that now.

“After this season, I should be able to do it consistently at this level.

“Hopefully I’ve raised a few eyebrows and people have taken notice. I just want to continue that.

“By no means have I proven myself yet, but I’d like to think I’m on the way there having shown I can hold my own in this environment.”

Tonight’s trip to Durham begins a very important week in Yorkshire’s summer.

They sit fourth in the Blast North Group, only two points behind joint leaders Nottinghamshire and Lancashire.

Then, on Sunday, they host Leicestershire in their final round Bob Willis Trophy game at Emerald Headingley.

They are five points behind North Group leaders Derbyshire and need a win to give themselves any chance of reaching the five-day Lord’s final later this month.

“Luckily, others have been off as well (in the Blast), Notts and Lancs at Liverpool and Durham and Derby as well,” added Thompson.

“We could do with picking up the points at Durham and then, when we get back into the white ball stuff after the four-day game, hit the ground running.

“Hopefully I can contribute towards a couple of wins this weekend. We desperately need that in the Bob Willis game.”