When Durham and Northants faced each other at Chester-le-Street in the final game of the 2014 Natwest t20 Blast group stages, it would prove a dead game, with both sides having already been knocked out of the competition.
A quirk of the fixture list sees the two meet at the same venue to kick start the new campaign and both will be hoping for more success this time around with almost every side aiming for at least the quarter finals.
Northants, of course, won the t20 competition in 2013 in the final year before the current format was launched, and after a 2014 that was disappointing in all formats will be confident of challenging once again.
Captain Alex Wakely is back at the helm after missing 2014 through injury and on paper the Steelbacks have one of the most explosive batting line-ups in the county with the likes of Richard Levi, David Willey, Josh Cobb, Adam Rossington and Steven Crook.
If that wasn’t enough power hitting, Shahid Afridi has joined the club for the first six games and will boost not just the batting, but his leg spin will prove more than handy in a bowling attack that could be Northants’ downfall.
Durham may not have the power hitters to match Northants, especially with Ben Stokes set to miss the opening game in the England squad, and they will be relying on John Hastings to provide the middle order power and could do with Phil Mustard finding form at the top of the order.
Their bowling attack, led by the evergreen Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth, who will likely cause Northants batsmen nightmares from their last visit to Durham, could be their strongest suit, with Paul Collingwood providing vital experience.
Durham were well on their way to defeat in the fixture between these two teams last year before John Hastings lead a remarkable counter-attack, clubbing an unbeaten 80 off just 26 balls as the home side chased down over 200. Hastings was the leading wicket taker in the Big Bash this year and is going to be crucial if Durham are to progress this season.
David Willey had his first, although brief, taste of international cricket, last week in the ODI against Ireland and backed that up with a run-a-ball century in the Championship last week. Likely to open the batting and the bowling Willey will be keen to show why he should retain his place in the ODI squad when the regular faces come back in for the New Zealand series.
Durham are without Ben Stokes and Mark Wood who are both rested ahead of the test match against New Zealand next week, but will largely stick to the group of players that have played in the Championship so far this season, with the exception of Ryan Pringle who comes into the squad to give the option of a second spinner.
Shahid Afridi will likely made his Northamptonshire debut as he begins a six game stint with the Steelbacks, while Ben Duckett could come in for his first appearance of the season. There are injury doubts over captain Alex Wakely and Josh Cobb after they suffered injuries at Derby this week, but both have been named in the squad, with Mohammed Azharullah the surprised omission.
Durham Jets squad: Mark Stoneman (c), Phil Mustard (w), Calum MacLeod, Paul Collingwood, Gordon Muchall, Scott Borthwick, Keaton Jennings, John Hastings, Ryan Pringle, Usman Arshad, Chris Rushworth, Graham Onions.
Northants Steelbacks squad: Alex Wakely (c), Adam Rossington (w), Shahid Afridi, Josh Cobb, Maurice Chambers, Steven Crook, Ben Duckett, Rob Keogh, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, Olly Stone, Graeme White, David Willey, Saif Zaib.
Weather and conditions
It will certainly not be a warm evening in the North East on Friday night but it should remain dry in Chester-le-Street, with showers not expected to come in until later in the evening.
However with conditions likely to be cloudy the toss could be crucial with both teams likely to be eager to bat first to avoid the deteriorating light towards the end of the game.
Date: Friday May 15th
Ground: Emirates Durham ICG
Umpires: Peter Hartley and Richard Kettleborough
Odds (SkyBet): Durham 8/11, Northamptonshire 11/10
Natwest T20 Blast Match Stats (in association with Opta):
The lowest total in English T20s was recorded in this fixture – Durham bowled Northamptonshire out for 47 in 2011.