Blast Off in the T20 – The Vitality Blast is here

Cricket Thursday June 6, 2024 By: Duncan Hughes

Summer marks the beginning of the 2024 domestic cricket season as players up and down the country return from their overseas duties over the winter. There are three domestic competitions that the county sides will compete in, including the traditional County Championship, One-Day Cup (50 overs) and the T20 Blast. We take a look at the start of the T20 Blast campaign and who might be emerging as early favourites to win the competition!

Get to know the T20 Blast

The T20 Blast is the shortest format in English County Cricket. Characterised by its high intensity, big-hitting and fast-paced action, it is beginning to become England’s most popular format attracting thousands of fans at cricket grounds across the country. Promoted by its atmosphere and interactive crowd engagements in an attempt to mirror the success of the Australian Big Bash League, the format offers something for everyone allowing you to get up close to the action. The T20 Blast has attracted some of the world’s best players over the years including AB De Villiers, Mitch Santner and Shahid Afridi to name a few. This season will be no different.

Teams compete in two groups, North and South. Upon completion of these groups, the top four sides in each group will advance to the quarter finals, where they will battle it out for a place at Finals Day. Finals Day consists of two semi-finals, before the grand finale with fans enjoying three top class games of cricket, and not to mention the all important Mascot Race!

Who won the T20 Blast in 2023? The South Group

It was Somerset who came out on top last year in an all South group final, defeating Essex at Edgbaston. After setting a target of 145 courtesy of a Sean Dickson 53 runs off 35 deliveries, Essex battled hard but ran out of wickets. They saw their tenth man fall on 131 runs, as a Matt Henry 4-for handed the South West club the trophy.

The sides have already faced each other in the 2024 format with a not too dissimilar outcome with Somerset coming out on top again. A 4 wicket victory for Somerset was enough to take the win in Essex, however, the champions haven’t had a perfect start to their title defence. Last year’s semi-finalists, Surrey, were dominant winners by 57 runs when they hosted Somerset at The Oval. It’s Surrey, the only team with a 100% record this year, who top the South group, closely followed by Kent Spitfires while Gloucestershire round off the top 3 based on run-rate.

The North Group

Meanwhile in the North group Lancashire Lightning have emerged as the early leaders. Thumping victories over Derbyshire and Durham, Lightning look to be early favourites, however, defeat to Worcestershire Rapids suggest they’re certainly not untouchable. There were no teams from the North present on finals day last year but in 2022, Lancashire were runners-up to Hampshire in a thrilling contest, losing by just one run. The last northern team to be crowned champions were Nottinghamshire Outlaws in 2020 beating Surrey in a rain-interrupted contest. The Outlaws have made a winless start to the campaign alongside Durham as they occupy the bottom two North group places.

Elsewhere, Birmingham Bears have made the perfect start to the campaign with wins over the Outlaws and Durham. The Bears are building a strong case for a trip to Finals Day this year for the first time since they won the competition back in 2014. Meanwhile Yorkshire Vikings and Northamptonshire Steelbacks also boast 2 wins with 1 defeat each.

Who’s going to win in 2024?

At this stage of the season, it’s far too early to predict a winner, but the favourites are appearing to top their respective groups. With Finals Day not until September 14th, there is plenty of time for teams to have a massive turn in form. Who do you think will be at Edgbaston in September? And who will lift the coveted Blast trophy? Find out from the best seats in the house with Engage Hospitality, check out their range of hospitality options for Old Trafford, Lords and of course Finals Day!

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What is the T20 World Cup?

The tournament in the West Indies and USA gets underway on Sunday 2nd June, with the American hosts taking on neighbours Canada in the opening fixture. England will also be facing local rivals in their first game and there will no doubt be plenty of sun cream in use as they face Scotland in Barbados.

Buttler and co. will also play Oman and Namibia in the group stage, as well as old rivals Australia, who won the 50-over World Cup last year. Meanwhile, Pakistan will face hosts USA, India, Canada and Ireland.

They’re targeting their second T20 World Cup win, having claimed the trophy in the competition’s second edition, beating Sri Lanka in the final at Lord’s back in 2009. They’ve lost twice in the final, including against England last time out.

Should England progress through their group, they’ll need to navigate their way through the Super 8s group, followed by the semi-finals. The final takes place on Saturday 29th June.

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