Two of last year’s final four meet at Wantage Road in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Tuesday night, with Northants’ looking for revenge against the only side they failed to beat over the course of their title run last summer.
The two met twice in eight days towards the end of the group stages, the Vikings twice triumphing as they secured their place in the knock-out stages, only to be beaten by Durham at Edgbaston, before Northants went on to beat the Jets and lift the crown.
It provided a frustrating end to a campaign that showed plenty of promise for the White Rose after a few barren years where their back-to-back Championship winning side couldn’t convert to the shortest format.
This season the T20 will provide a welcome relief from a stuttering four day campaign, losing two of their last three, in the absence of their England trio in the middle-order.
The arrival of Shaun Marsh, joining fellow Aussie Peter Handscombe in the middle order of the limited overs side, as well as David Willey taking his place at number three, provides a much more formidable looking batting line up, and so it proved as they racked up 227-5 against Nottinghamshire on the opening night at Headingley.
It was surprising therefore when they failed to chase 166 against Derbyshire at Chesterfield on Saturday, the Falcons having beaten Northants on Friday to be the early pace setters in the North group.
Northants bounced back from that defeat by winning at Durham, leaving both teams with a win and a defeat and whilst it is still early days in the 14 match group stage, with both sides targeting a place in the quarter-finals, neither will want a second defeat at this stage.
A lackluster display with the ball saw Derybshire never pressured as they chased 180, however Tabriz Shamsi has proved a fine short term signing, playing his final match before Seekkuge Prasanna arrives for the remainder of the competition.
Both Adam Lyth and Ben Duckett have started the competition with back to back half centuries, the pair leading the run scoring charts two rounds in
Richard Gleeson burst onto the scene in the Blast last year, the only regular bowler to go at less than a run a ball, whilst his early breakthroughs were key to Northants success. Hitting 90mph, he was perhaps a surprise to sides and it remains to be seen if he can have the same success as last year, but with Yorkshire’s powerful top order, Alex Wakely will look to Gleeson for crucial early strikes.
David Willey received a hostile reception on the return to his home town club last year, even having beer chucked over him on the boundary. The England all-rounder will be relishing the big occasion though and be more than up for this clash, as shown with his only two half centuries in 2016 coming against Northants at Headingley.
Richard Levi returns to the Northants squad having not played since suffering concussion after a serious blow against Worcestershire at the end of May although Muhammed Azharullah has been ruled out of the competition with a shoulder injury. Nathan Buck provides an option if Northants opt to make a change in the bowling attack.
Northants squad: Nathan Buck, Josh Cobb, Steven Crook, Ben Duckett, Richard Gleeson, Rob Keogh, Adam Rossington, Tabriz Shamsi, Ben Sanderson, Richard Levi, Rory Kleinveldt, Rob Newton, Graeme White, Alex Wakely.
It is a case of same again for Yorkshire who name an unchanged squad, Ben Coad and Matthew Fisher added to the 11 that have played in both their opening games.
Yorkshire squad: Tim Bresnan (C), Ben Coad, Matthew Fisher, Peter Handscomb (wkt), Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Jack Leaning, Adam Lyth, Shaun Marsh, Steven Patterson, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Matthew Waite, David Willey.
Weather and conditions
Sadly the weather looks like it could play a major part on Tuesday night, with light rain turning to rain as the evening goes on in Northampton, with a washout a major risk. If the rain stays away, the match is likley to be played on the same surface that Derbyshire cruised a chase of 180 on Friday, with more runs expected if they can get on.
Date: Tuesday July 11
Venue: Wantage Road
Odds: Northants 6/5, Yorkshire 4/6