The Vitality Blast will be back in its full glory in 2021, with the 18 counties back in their traditional two regional groups and slated to play 14 group-stage matches each.
To be honest, we’re looking forward to all of the matches, but this article wouldn’t be quite so snappy if we listed all 133 that make up the tournament.
So here are six ties that have caught our eye so far.
Worcestershire Rapids v Notts Outlaws – 9 June
These two sides have won three of the last four Blast competitions, so this match on the opening day of the competition features two heavyweights of T20 cricket.
The Outlaws come into the year as reigning champions, following their impressive victory over Surrey at Edgbaston last October. The Rapids, on the other hand, were somewhat underwhelming in 2020, finishing bottom of the Central group with just two wins.
The Sky Sports cameras will be at New Road to bring us all the action and we can expect some fireworks to get the tournament started with a bang.
Middlesex v Surrey – 10 June
The following day, Sky’s production moves to Lord’s for a bit of North/South rivalry in the South Group.
Surrey had a dream run to the final last year, winning seven and losing just one of their group matches on the back of some excellent performances from the likes of Laurie Evans and Dan Moriarty, and the PCA’s Vitality Blast MVP Will Jacks.
Middlesex struggled with their consistency but saw some of their young squad members coming to the fore in the shape of Joe Cracknell, Luke Hollman and Max Holden.
Both sides certainly possess the quality to make this a memorable London Derby.
Somerset v Glamorgan – 19 June
Saturday night, floodlights, The Cooper Associates County Ground and a local rivalry – what’s not to like?
Somerset had an odd campaign last year in that they had the third-highest net run rate of all 18 counties in the group stages but failed to reach the knockout rounds. When they won they tended to win handsomely but when they lost – which was more often – it was usually quite narrowly.
Glamorgan have a relatively undistinguished record in T20 cricket, making Finals Day twice in the tournament’s history, but rarely in recent years have they been anything other than an exciting team to watch. Timm van der Gugten was particularly impressive last year, picking up 14 wickets with his right arm bullets.
Yorkshire Vikings v Lancashire Lightning – 2 July
Roses Derby. Enough said.
What, you want more? Ok. Well, Adam Lyth continues to be one of the best T20 batsmen in the country and Yorkshire are blooding some excellent young players who are already making their mark on the Blast.
And you can copy and paste that exact same statement about Lancashire, replacing Lyth with Liam Livingstone or Alex Davies, as well as having two England T20 bowlers in Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson.
This clash has got everything you could possibly want.
Gloucestershire v Middlesex – 9 July
If you’ve ever been to the Cheltenham Cricket Festival, you’ll know what an excellent venue it is to watch a match, especially when there is a full house for a T20 match and the home side possesses such a destructive batting lineup.
Gloucestershire were remarkable last season in their run to the semi-finals, with Ian Cockbain smashing 399 runs at a strike rate of 170 and Chris Dent also hitting over 350 runs.
With the ball, fan favourite Tom Smith picked up 14 wickets and conceded fewer than six runs per over in his 11 matches, while David Payne and Ryan Higgins both claimed 16 scalps.
If they can repeat their heroics again in 2021 the West Country side have a great chance of making another Finals Day appearance.
Finals Day - 18 September
A bit of a cop out here because A) it’s three matches, and B) every cricket fan looks forward to Finals Day, but IT’S SUCH A GREAT DAY!
Every county will be dreaming of walking out at Edgbaston on 18 September, hopefully in front of a huge crowd, and putting on an amazing show.
The Road to Edgbaston starts on Wednesday 9 June – who are you backing to get there?