English counties were early adopters of Twenty20 cricket and the Vitality Blast is now a firm fixture within the summer sporting schedule.
|What||Vitality Blast 2023|
|Where||Finals Day is at Edgbaston, Birmingham|
|When||Saturday 20th May - Saturday 15th July 2023|
|How to watch||Selected matches live on Sky Sports Cricket|
|Odds||Surrey 15/2, Hampshire 8/1, Somerset 8/1, Lancashire 9/1|
The 2023 Vitality Blast runs from Saturday 20th May to Saturday 15th July 2023. The final round of fixtures in the group stage of the competition takes place on 2nd July and the four quarter-final winners will advance to Finals Day on 15th July.
The Vitality Blast Finals Day used to be held towards the end of the English summer in September but it was brought forward in the calendar to accommodate The Hundred, the 100-ball competition introduced in 2021, which takes place during August.
The Vitality Blast group-stage fixtures are held at the home grounds of the 18 first-class counties around England and Wales.
Finals Day in 2023 will again take place at Edgbaston in Birmingham, which has hosted the semi-finals and finals of the Blast since 2013.
Birmingham Bears, who play their home matches at Edgbaston, won the 2014 final and finished as runners-up to Nottinghamshire Outlaws in 2017.
Cricket fans in the UK can watch selected Vitality Blast group matches on Sky Sports Cricket, which also offers live coverage of every knockout game.
The 2023 Vitality Blast is the 21st edition of the competition, which was known as the Twenty20 Cup when it was launched in 2003.
It was the world's first professional Twenty20 tournament and Surrey were the inaugural champions, beating Warwickshire by nine wickets in the final at Trent Bridge thanks to Jimmy Ormond's 4-11 and a blistering opening stand of 100 between Ian Ward and Ali Brown.
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Twenty20 cricket is a volatile format and that is reflected by the fact that 13 of the 18 counties claimed at least one Vitality Blast title in the first 20 years of the competition.
The most successful teams in the history of the Vitality Blast are Leicestershire, champions in 2004, 2006 and 2011, and Hampshire, who lifted the trophy in 2010, 2012 and 2022.
Kent, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire have each been Blast winners on two occasions while Surrey are yet to add to their inaugural title in 2003, losing in the final in 2004, 2013 and 2020.
The 2023 Vitality Blast sees the 18 counties divided into two groups. The North Group features Birmingham Bears, Derbyshire, Durham, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire and Yorkshire while the South Group is made up of Essex, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Somerset, Surrey and Sussex.
Each county plays 14 group-stage matches, seven at home and seven away, and the top four teams in each group qualify for the quarter-finals.
The winners of the last-eight ties advance to Finals Day at Edgbaston, where the two semi-finals and the final will be played on Saturday 15th July 2023.
Hampshire (8/1) won the Vitality Blast by one run in a thrilling final against Lancashire (9/1) in 2022 and both teams are among the favourites for the competition in 2023.
Australia internationals Ben McDermott and Nathan Ellis, two stars of Hampshire's triumphant campaign in 2022, are returning to the county, whose captain James Vince was the Blast's leading runscorer last year.
Ace T20 all-rounder Benny Howell looks a smart signing for Hampshire while Lancashire have brought in New Zealand internationals Daryl Mitchell and Colin de Grandhomme.
Birmingham Bears (10/1) could be interesting runners after the signings of experienced England all-rounder Moeen Ali, who will captain the side, and Australia star Glenn Maxwell.
Somerset (8/1), beaten by Hampshire in the 2022 semi-finals, have bulked up their top order by bringing in exciting batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore from Yorkshire and Surrey (15/2) will have canny West Indian spinner Sunil Narine back at The Oval in 2023.
Nottinghamshire failed to qualify from the North Group in 2022 but they had made it to Finals Day in four of the previous six seasons, claiming the trophy in 2017 and 2020, and they have added England fast bowler Olly Stone and New Zealand batsman Colin Munro to their 2023 roster.
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