The Vitality Blast will begin celebrations for the 20th edition of the Twenty20 competition with an opening-night rematch of last season’s final when champions Kent Spitfires host Somerset on 25 May.
A new Vitality Blast brand has today been unveiled alongside the schedule, to mark the world’s longest-running professional domestic Twenty20 competition turning 20.
The new brand highlights the dynamism and vibrancy that the Vitality Blast is famed for – fierce local rivalries, the forging of heroes, and the celebratory atmosphere fans know and love.
This year the Vitality Blast’s rivalries will be packed into seven weeks of action as the 18 First-Class Counties bid to reach the already sold-out Finals Day at Edgbaston on 16 July.
Fans will get an early taste of one of the Vitality Blast’s most celebrated derbies with Lancashire Lightning hosting Yorkshire Vikings on the first Friday night of the competition.
More preferred and fan-friendly timeslots will also be a feature of the group-stage with 99 of the 126 matches to be played on a Thursday night, Friday night or at the weekend.
There will also be 10 double-headers when the men’s Vitality Blast and women’s Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 matches are played back-to-back at the same venue.
The Vitality Blast quarter-finals will begin three days after the group stage finishes, on 3 July, with Finals Day a week later.
That continuity will help ensure the Vitality Blast’s biggest overseas stars can be available for one of the biggest days in the county calendar, with superstar names such as Rashid Khan (Sussex Sharks), Carlos Brathwaite (Birmingham Bears), Marnus Labuschagne (Glamorgan), Shaheen Afridi (Middlesex), Qais Ahmed (Kent Spitfires) and Matthew Wade (Worcestershire Rapids) already signed up for the competition.
Darren Stevens is also set turn out for Kent Spitfires again, after playing a starring role in the Spitfires’ success last September, as one of five players who played in the very first T20 season in 2003.
Current-day players Samit Patel (Notts Outlaws), Ravi Bopara (Sussex Sharks), Tim Bresnan (Birmingham Bears) and Tim Murtagh (Middlesex) were also involved in the first Twenty20 competition.
They will play alongside the likes of rising stars such as Harry Brook (Yorkshire Vikings), Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire Lightning), Tom Banton (Somerset) and George Garton (Sussex Sharks) who are currently with the England Men’s squad for their five-match Twenty20 series in West Indies.
Supporters can have a Blast this summer at every home group stage match by buying their season tickets now. Visit ecb.co.uk/blast-tickets for links to every team’s season ticket pass and take advantage of multi-match savings.