Vitality Blast Finals Day has arrived early this year and in the midst of an England ODI series. Attendances are down from 920,000 in 2019 to 800,000 this year. Even so, Edgbaston is once again sold out and the Hollies Stand will no doubt be buzzing as the day wears on.
Last year’s finals were played during a rainy early October. What a contrast to this year, when the temperature may well soar to record levels!
There is a clear North/South divide to the day. Yorkshire and Lancashire meet in the first game, followed by Somerset and Hampshire.
That ODI series means that six players are unavailable – Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and David Willey for Yorkshire, Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone for Lancashire plus Somerset’s Craig Overton.
Despite these absences, there will be plenty of talent on display. Harry Brook, Phil Salt and Matt Parkinson have all been released from England duties and will presumably play in the first match of the day.
It remains to be seen how the Blast will fare in the long term in competition with the Hundred whilst four day and 50 over cricket are also vying for their slots in an overcrowded season. But that issue will be far from the minds of spectators and players as the four teams that have come through the qualification stages battle in the July heat for the title of Vitality Blast Champions.
Let battle commence!
Vitality Blast Finals Day is supporting the Professional Cricketers’ Trust. The players’ charity provides vital support to past and present cricketers in England and Wales and their immediate families when in desperate need. The charity’s work is all encompassing, whether it be for unforeseen physical or mental needs. You can support – justgiving.com/campaign/Blast22