The 20th season of the Vitality Blast begins on Wednesday 25 May 2022
For the 20th time, the Vitality Blast will grace county grounds up and down the country this summer, starting on Wednesday 25 May.
Once again, the competition is split into North and South Groups, with each county playing 14 group matches each before the highest four in each group reach the knockout stage.
That’s 133 total matches for fans to savor, and we’ve picked out six of them that are especially worth keeping a watch on.
Kent Spitfires v Somerset – 25 May
How better to begin a replacement season than with a rematch of last year’s final? The Sky Sports cameras are at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence to work out how Kent Spitfires, the reigning champions, fare against Somerset, the in-place runners-up.
It promises to be a cracker, not least because last year’s meeting within the final went against the head-to-head form guide: Somerset has won the previous three encounters between the teams within the South Group. that feature their trip east last summer when Somerset completed a shocking 10-wicket victory.
KEY STAT: Tom Banton’s two T20 centuries have both come against the Spitfires.
Lancashire Lightning v Yorkshire Vikings – 27 May
Friday night. Emirates Old Trafford under the lights. An undoubted raucous atmosphere for one of the largest rivalries in cricket – the Roses clash between Lancashire Lightning and Yorkshire Vikings.
These matches have delivered so often throughout the years that we expect nothing different now. Last year’s meeting at Headingley saw Harry Brook hit a marvelous 91 not out and Lockie Ferguson deliver a famous hat-trick. Brook is one to look at over again alongside Jordan Thompson, while Lancashire now boasts Phil Salt at the highest of the order and might even produce a spin-friendly pitch for Matt Parkinson.
KEY STAT: Steven Croft is the leading scorer in Roses T20 matches, with 618 runs.
Hampshire Hawks v Sussex Sharks – 4 June
The match that, in particular others, is steeped in history. Journey back to 13 June 2003 and this clash was the televised match on the first-ever night of T20 cricket. Hampshire won it, defending a complete of 153 by five runs. Jump forward another year, to the house of the Sharks, and another moment etched into folklore. Dimitri Mascarenhas became the primary bowler to require a T20 hat-trick – there are an additional 31 within the Blast since.
Dubbed ‘El Clasicoast,’ this fierce rivalry is certain to deliver. In 2021, 16-year-old Archie Lenham was the star in only his second T20 match, taking 3/14. Perhaps it’ll be a spin-off: Lenham and Rashid Khan versus Mason Crane and Liam Dawson.
This match also will be played as a double-header with Southern Vipers v Northern Diamonds within the Charlotte Edwards Cup earlier in the day.
KEY STAT: Sussex’s Luke Wright is the all-time leading run-scorer within the Blast, with 4,868 runs before the 2022 competition.
Birmingham Bears v Notts Outlaws – 5 June
The Bears have a replacement captain for the 2022 season, and you will haven’t any trouble remembering his name. Carlos Brathwaite takes the mantle this year and he’ll be looking to guide a primary Blast title since 2014. one of all the Bears’ biggest tests will come on Sunday 5 June when Notts Outlaws make the trip to Edgbaston.
Two of the last five competitions are won by the Outlaws, who remain among the foremost consistent performers within the Vitality Blast. they have been, at minimum, quarter-finalists once a year since 2015 and thumped the Bears at Edgbaston last year, bowling them out for just 61.
KEY STAT: Sam Hain has an exceptional record against the Outlaws. His T20 debut came during this fixture, and he scored 92*, while he averages 67.42 at a strike rate of 141.74.
Gloucestershire v Middlesex – 3 July
Few things get the heartbeat racing like fast bowling, and this contest at The Bristol County Ground is certain to deliver. At the forefront are two precocious Pakistan hotshots: Gloucestershire’s Naseem Shah and Middlesex’s Shaheen Shah Afridi.
The last time Afridi played within the Vitality Blast, it had been against his 2022 county for Hampshire, during which he took 6/19 including four wickets in four balls to finish off the match. Shah is yet to feature in English cricket but the paceman, who is 19 in February, already has nine Test appearances for his country. He was the second-youngest player to require five wickets in an innings.
KEY STAT: Gloucestershire have won 14 out of a possible 20 matches (70%) against Middlesex; against no other county have they won the next percentage. they’re also unbeaten in nine home matches.
Finals Day – 16 July
Technically, this can be three matches, and we don’t yet know who is contesting any of them. But this is often the primary date within the diary of such a lot of cricket fans that we simply had to incorporate it.
Edgbaston will yet again play host to the best day of the county cricket calendar. it’ll be the 13th Finals Day to require a place in Birmingham and 2022 marks the tenth consecutive year of Finals Day before the Hollies.
KEY STAT: Leicestershire Foxes are the foremost successful Vitality Blast county, with three titles (2004, 2006, 2011).