The 21st edition of English cricket's premier 20-over competition the Vitality Blast.
When is it?
The competition begins on Saturday, May 20 with the first-ever Blast Off launch event at Edgbaston. Derbyshire Falcons and Lancashire Lightning, last season's runners-up, kick off the new campaign followed by Birmingham Bears against Yorkshire Vikings. The group phase then runs until the final round on July 2. The knockout phase is scheduled as follows:
Thursday, July 6: Quarterfinal 1 (TBC), Quarterfinal 2 (TBC)
Friday, July 7: Quarterfinal 3 (TBC), Quarterfinal 4 (TBC)
Saturday, July 15: Finals Day (Edgbaston)
What's the format?
The 18 first-class counties are split into two regional groups, North and South, based on their location in England and Wales.
Every county plays 14 group matches, seven at home and seven away. The exception this year are Derbyshire, whose opening 'home' game is being held at a neutral venue.
The top four sides from each section play the quarterfinals in the week immediately following the end of the group stage. There is a single reserve day for each knockout match. The winners of those four ties qualify for Finals Day at Edgbaston, when two semi-finals and a final are played to determine the eventual winner.
Can Lancashire go one step further in 2023? (Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
How are the quarterfinals and semifinals determined?
The top four sides from each regional group are kept apart in the last eight. The path to the semifinals are also set as follows:
South Group: Essex Eagles, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Hampshire Hawks, Kent Spitfires, Middlesex, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex Sharks
Where will the games take place?
Every county, bar Derbyshire, will play seven home and away fixtures during the group stage. The quarterfinal hosts are determined by whichever team finishes higher in the group. Edgbaston, which has hosted 14 of the previous 20 Finals Days, will again be the stage for the blue riband day on the English men's domestic calendar.
What are the fixtures?
The full fixture list for the T20 Blast can be found here
Notts Outlaws will be boosted by the services of Pakistan's Shaheen Shah Afridi (ASIF HASSAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Who is the favourite?
Three-time winners and reigning champions Hampshire Hawks are the team to beat in the eyes of the bookies this year at 8/1 followed closely by Surrey, who were stunned in the last eight by Yorkshire. Last year's runners-up Lancashire Lightning are available at 9/1 after narrowly missing out on the title.
Other teams to keep a close eye on this year are Somerset (9/1), who were last victorious in 2005, Birmingham Bears and Notts Outlaws (both 10/1).
What happened last year?
Last year saw one of the most dramatic finales in Blast history.
Lancashire and Hampshire contested the final after beating Yorkshire Vikings and Somerset respectively during the afternoon semifinals.
In the final, Hampshire batted first and were reduced to 111 for 7 in the 15th over before Ross Whiteley and Chris Wood rallied to help them to set 153 to win.
Lancashire started the reply strongly, easing to 72 for 1 in the eighth over and looked in prime position to secure a second title, following on from their success in 2015.
But Hants put the squeeze on their opponents, to leave Lightning needing 11 off the last for victory. Luke Wood was run out to leave six required off two, an equation which was cut to four from the last delivery.
Nathan Ellis appeared to have secured victory for Hampshire, bowling Richard Gleeson, but celebrations were cut short when the delivery was adjudged to be a no-ball.
The Australian went again and despite Lancashire's best efforts, Hampshire claimed victory by a single run.
Where can I buy tickets?
Tickets can be found for all counties via the ECB website.
Finals Day sold out earlier in the year. An additional allocation for the four counties that qualify will be sold later once the lineup is confirmed.
Finals Day is back at Edgbaston for the 11th year in a row (Harry Trump/Getty Images)
What matches are on TV?
Chief UK broadcasters Sky Sports have announced the first batch of matches they intend to show during the group stage. Others are expected to follow, including the four quarterfinals and all three matches from Finals Day.
Saturday, May 20: Derbyshire v Lancashire, Birmingham Bears v Yorkshire
Wednesday, May 24: Somerset v Hampshire
Thursday, May 25: Middlesex v Surrey
Friday, May 26: Surrey v Kent
Monday, May 29: Durham v Nottinghamshire
Wednesday, May 31: Northamptonshire v Birmingham Bears
How can I follow it?
In the UK, Sky Sports have exclusive rights to this year's competition, with matches available on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket.
All T20 Blast fixtures will be available via BBC Local Radio Stations with extensive coverage available on 5 Live Sports Extra.
Counties will also offer their streaming service of all other un-broadcasted matches, via their websites and YouTube channels.
Followers living in India will have access to the competition via Fancode.
In the USA, Willow TV will show all the live action.
You can watch the Blast on Fox Sports in Australia, or Ten Sports in Pakistan.
SuperSport and Sky Sports are showing the matches in South Africa and New Zealand respectively.
LEMAR TV will bring the footage to viewers based in Afghanistan.
Units 7-8, 35-37 High St, Barrow upon Soar, Loughborough, LE128PY
Welcome to www.thecricketer.com - the online home of the world’s oldest cricket magazine. Breaking news, interviews, opinion and cricket goodness from every corner of our beautiful sport, from village green to national arena.