The excitement and anticipation is starting to build as the T20 Blast is due to start on Friday with seven games scheduled to take place. Supporters, young and old, up and down the country, will be hoping to see some of the best T20 players in action from around the world.
Last season's winners Northamptonshire, who beat Surrey in the final at Edgbaston, will be hoping to defend their trophy but they start with a tough away trip to Headingley where they will face a confident Yorkshire outfit.
This year the tournament will feature some of the best players from around the World. Yorkshire have made arguably the most exciting signing with Australian star Aaron Finch hoping to excite supporters with his aggressive brand of batting. All the teams will boast their own T20 specialists. The likes of Jesse Ryder, Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian, Richard Levi and Saeed Ajmal will no doubt light up the tournament. Not to mention the very talented English based stars of the tournament.
Could we also see Andrew Flintoff making a surprise comeback in this year's tournament?
There appears to be an appetite for Friday night T20 cricket this year, whether this is a revenue issue or simply an effort to add to the atmosphere, it could prove to be a good decision. Many of the grounds are centrally based in their relevant towns and cities and the after work or school influx will boost attendances as people start their weekends early. Counties are taking advantage of the popularity of the game and why not.
Middlesex have decided to trial a double header this Saturday as they take on Essex and Sussex in back-to-back games at Lords. If it proves a success then other counties could follow.
Unfortunately for England's premier T20 competition it is starting at the same time as the IPL is still being played and will also have competition from the Caribbean Premier League when that gets under way. Lets not forget that the football World Cup will also be competing for audiences so the scheduling of games will be very important in order to attract spectators to the ground and also the armchair viewers.
Whatever your views on Twenty20 cricket there is no doubting the fact that it does excite spectators and players alike. The traditionalists will have their own opinions but this format of the game does bring in good revenue for counties and looks set to stay. As long as it doesn’t dilute the importance of Test matches, which is what I view as the ultimate cricketing 'test', then we should continue to embrace it for all the positives it brings.
The 2014 Finals day take place on the 23rd August at Edgbaston. Hopefully Finals day will not be hampered by the weather like it was last year.
This weekend's fixtures are;
Friday 16th May 2014
Durham v Worcestershire Durham 17:30
Gloucestershire v Somerset Bristol 17:30
Leicestershire v Derbyshire Leicester 17:30
Yorkshire v Northamptonshire Leeds 17:30
Nottinghamshire v Lancashire Nottingham 18:30
Hampshire v Glamorgan Southampton 19:00
Sussex v Surrey Hove 19:00
Saturday 17th May 2014
Middlesex v Essex Lord's 12:00
Middlesex v Sussex Lord's 16:00
Lancashire v Worcestershire Old Trafford 19:00
Sunday 18th May 2014
Somerset v Surrey Taunton 14:30
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