Expanded Vitality Blast Off will return to kick off new domestic T20 schedule

Next summer’s domestic T20 schedule kicks off in May with men’s and women’s double-headers taking place across four days.

The Vitality Blast Off begins with a four-day festival played out from Thursday May 30 to Sunday June 2, where seven men’s and women’s T20 double-headers will take place along with two men’s matches back-to-back at Edgbaston, which will host two Midlands clashes.

The Thursday fixtures see games played out at two venues as reigning Charlotte Edwards Cup champions Southern Vipers host Western Storm and, after both competing in this year’s Finals Day, Hampshire Hawks meet Surrey at the Ageas Bowl.

The Blaze v Southern Vipers – Charlotte Edwards Cup 2023 Finals Day – Final – New Road
Southern Vipers won the Charlotte Edwards Cup this year (David Davies/PA)

At Old Trafford, Thunder, who reached their first Finals Day earlier this year, take on Central Sparks before Lancashire Lightning face Durham.

In a replay of the 2023 Blast final, Somerset begin their title defence against Essex, whom they beat to earn a first Blast crown in 18 years, and Western Storm face Sunrisers at the Cooper Associates County Ground on Friday.

Friday’s action also sees Northern Diamonds hosts South East Stars before Durham clash with Birmingham Bears at the Seat Unique Riverside, while at Trent Bridge the Blaze play Sparks and Notts Outlaws face Northamptonshire Steelbacks.

Edgbaston will host two Midlands games on the Saturday as the Birmingham Bears clash with Notts Outlaws while Derbyshire Falcons take on Leicestershire Foxes.

The action finishes on the Sunday with games at the Oval and County Ground as the South East Stars play Southern Vipers before Surrey aim to avenge last season’s semi-final defeat when they face Somerset in south London.

Somerset were victors in this year’s T20 Blast final (Mike Egerton/PA)

The remaining matches then see Sunrisers hosting Northern Diamonds and the Steelbacks will face Yorkshire Vikings.

Speaking about next year’s double-headers, ECB managing director of county cricket, Neil Snowball, said: “It is hugely exciting to be able to confirm that Vitality Blast Off will be expanded to include eight venues next summer as we aim to attract more people to watch men’s and women’s domestic cricket.

“We have scheduled some of the highest-profile men’s and women’s games during the four-day window, which will also launch the new Vitality Blast season in style.

“We saw how successful Vitality Blast Off was this summer when Edgbaston did a remarkable job, as they always do, to put on a show for fans on and off the field and we’re determined to build on that.”