An expanded Kia Super League will mean a feast of T20 cricket this summer, with a total of 165 matches in the KSL and the Vitality Blast to be played in the 74 days between 4 July and 15 September.
After the success of the first two KSL seasons, the six teams will play each other home and away for the first time in 2018 – meaning they each play 10 matches rather than five in the battle to reach Finals Day, and the competition includes a total of 32 matches compared to last year’s 17, spanning 37 days from 22 July to 27 August.
The Vitality Blast retains its familiar format, with the 18 first-class counties split into a North Group and a South Group, and the top four from each qualifying for quarter finals – and the action again concentrated in the summer holiday months of July and August.
Finals Day will be at Edgbaston for the sixth consecutive season, on a slightly later date of Saturday 15 September, to avoid a clash with England’s Test series against India.
Notts Outlaws launch their defence of the Blast title they won for the first time at Edgbaston this summer with a home game at Trent Bridge against Birmingham Bears – the team they beat in the 2017 final.
That is one of three games on Wednesday 4 July, and the following night features three more – including the Middlesex-Surrey blockbuster at Lord’s.
“July seems a long way away, but the prospect of launching our defence of the Blast at home to Birmingham is an exciting one. We get great support at Trent Bridge so it’s great to have a home game for our first game as champions, and a repeat of last year’s final against the Bears means it will be a big game for both teams.”
The Kia Super League begins on Sunday 22 July, when Heather Knight’s Western Storm launch their title defence against Yorkshire Diamonds at the Coopers Associates County Ground in Taunton.
The Storm will also feature in one of county cricket’s most famous festivals for the first time when they host Surrey Stars at Cheltenham College on 26 July.
Finals Day will again be hosted by Sussex at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove on 27 August - Bank Holiday Monday.
"The KSL is a tournament that gets better every year and we're delighted that it's been expanded. It gives more opportunities to us to play and it gives more opportunities for fans to come and watch. T20 cricket will be a big focus for us this year, ahead of the World T20 in November, and hopefully the expanded KSL will help the England team prepare and provide great entertainment in its own right."
There will be eight double headers featuring fixtures from both the KSL and the Blast, starting with the KSL Roses battle between Yorkshire Diamonds and Lancashire Thunder on Friday 27 July – which will be followed by the Blast fixture between Yorkshire Vikings and Birmingham Bears.
The other double headers are at Taunton (29 July), the Kia Oval (31 July), two at Emirates Old Trafford (3 August and 7 August), the Ageas Bowl (8 August), Hove (14 August), and finally Edgbaston on 15 August, as Warwickshire host their first KSL fixture between Loughborough Lightning and Western Storm - before the Blast match between Birmingham Bears and Lancashire Lightning.
Sky Sports will again be providing extensive live coverage of the Blast and the KSL, and will confirm the list of televised matches shortly.
4 July – Vitality Blast launch night – including Notts Outlaws v Birmingham Bears at Trent Bridge
22 July – KSL launch day – including Western Storm v Yorkshire Diamonds at Coopers Associates County Ground, Taunton
17 August – final round of Vitality Blast group fixtures
18 August – final round of KSL group fixtures
23-26 August – Vitality Blast quarter finals
27 August – KSL Finals Day (1st Central County Ground, Hove)
15 September – Vitality Blast Finals Day (Edgbaston)
Friday 27 July, Emerald Headingley – Yorkshire Diamonds v Lancashire Thunder (KSL), Yorkshire Vikings v Birmingham Bears (Vitality Blast)
Sunday 29 July, Coopers Associates County Ground, Taunton – Western Storm v Loughborough Lightning (KSL), Somerset v Middlesex (Vitality Blast)
Tuesday 31 July, Kia Oval – Surrey Stars v Lancashire Thunder (KSL), Surrey v Glamorgan (Vitality Blast)
Friday 3 August, Emirates Old Trafford – Lancashire Thunder v Western Storm (KSL), Lancashire Lightning v Leicestershire Foxes (Vitality Blast)
Tuesday 7 August, Emirates Old Trafford – Lancashire Thunder v Surrey Stars (KSL), Lancashire Lightning v Durham Jets (Vitality Blast)
Wednesday 8 August, Ageas Bowl – Southern Vipers v Yorkshire Diamonds (KSL), Hampshire v Somerset (Vitality Blast)
Tuesday 14 August, 1st Central County Ground, Hove – Southern Vipers v Surrey Stars (KSL), Sussex Sharks v Glamorgan
Wednesday 15 August, Edgbaston – Loughborough Lightning v Western Storm (KSL), Birmingham Bears v Lancashire Lightning (Vitality Blast)