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The T20 Blast, currently named the Vitality Blast for sponsorship reasons is a professional
Twenty20 Twenty20 (T20) is a shortened game format of cricket. At the professional level, it was introduced by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2003 for the county cricket, inter-county competition. In a Twenty20 game, the two teams have a ...

Twenty20
cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two Bail (cricket), bai ...

cricket
competition for
English and Welsh first-class counties English usually refers to: * English language * English people English may also refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * ''English'', an adjective for something of, from, or related to England ** English national identity, an identity and ...
. The competition was established by the
England and Wales Cricket Board The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is the national governing body of cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is ...
(ECB) in 2003 as the first professional Twenty20 league in the world. It is the top-level Twenty20 competition in England and Wales. The competition has been known by a variety of names due to commercial sponsorship. It was known as the Twenty20 Cup from 2003 to 2009, the Friends Provident t20 and Friends Life t20 from 2010 to 2013, and the Natwest t20 Blast from 2014 to 2017. The competition has been sponsored by insurance company
Vitality Vitality (, , ) is the capacity to live, grow, or develop. More simply it is the property of having life. The perception of vitality is regarded as a basic psychological drive and, in philosophy, a component to the will to live. As such, people ...
since 2018 and is known as the Vitality Blast.


History

When the
Benson & Hedges Cup The Benson & Hedges Cup was a one-day cricket competition for first-class counties in England and Wales that was held from 1972 to 2002, one of cricket's longest sponsorship deals. It was the third major one-day competition established in Englan ...
ended in 2002, the ECB needed another one-day competition to fill its place. In response to dwindling crowds and reduced sponsorship the decision was made to launch a 20 over competition with the aim of boosting the game's popularity, particularly with the younger generation. The intention was to deliver fast-paced, exciting cricket which was accessible to fans who were put off by the longer versions of the game. The first Twenty20 Cup was held in 2003 and was marketed with the slogan "I don’t like cricket, I love it" – a line from the cricket-themed pop song
Dreadlock Holiday "Dreadlock Holiday" is a reggae Reggae () is a music genre that originated in Jamaica Jamaica () is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the Ca ...
by
10cc 10cc are an English rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compound, chemica ...
.


Twenty20 Cup

The first official Twenty20 Cup matches were played on 13 June 2003. The first season of Twenty20 in England was a success, with the Surrey Lions defeating the Warwickshire Bears by nine wickets in the final to win the first Twenty20 Cup Final. On 15 July 2004 Middlesex versus Surrey (the first Twenty20 Cup game to be held at
Lord's Lord's Cricket Ground, commonly known as Lord's, is a cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players each on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch ...
) attracted a crowd of 26,500, the largest attendance for any county cricket game other than a one-day final since 1953. The tournament saw six different winners in its seven years. By the end of the 2009, the ECB had decided to implement a larger competition for the T20 format of the game. The Twenty20 English Premier League was a proposed cricket league to be run by the ECB consisting of the 18 county teams and two overseas teams divided into two divisions with promotion and relegation.New-look English Twenty20 agreed
BBC Sport, 16 July 2008; Retrieved 17 March 2018

CricInfo, 16 July 2008; Retrieved 17 March 2018
The proposal was influenced by the success of the
Indian Premier League The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a professional men's Twenty20 cricket Twenty20 (T20) is a shortened game format of cricket. At the professional level, it was introduced by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2003 for the coun ...

Indian Premier League
and by
Allen Stanford Robert Allen Stanford (born March 24, 1950), known primarily by his middle name, is an American convicted financial fraudster and former financier and was also a sponsor of professional sports. He is currently serving a 110-year federal prison s ...
who had organised the
Stanford Super Series The Stanford Super Series were a series of Twenty20 Twenty20 cricket or Twenty-20 (often abbreviated to T20) is a shortened format of cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players ...
in the Caribbean. After the collapse of Stanford's series the proposals were scrapped. Instead a modified 40 over league, the
Clydesdale Bank 40 The ECB40, last known as the Yorkshire Bank 40 (YB40) for sponsorship reasons, was a forty-over limited overs cricket competition for the English first-class counties. It began in the 2010 English cricket season as a replacement for the Pro40 a ...
was implemented.


Friends Provident/FriendsLife T20

The Friends Provident T20 (renamed the FriendsLife T20 after just one season) was introduced in
2010 2010 was designated as: *International Year of Biodiversity The International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) was a year-long celebration of biological diversity and its importance, taking place internationally in 2010. Coinciding with the dat ...
. The competition initially divided the eighteen counties into North and South groups, before reverting to the previous model of three divisions of six teams. This period of Twenty20 cricket in England and Wales saw
Leicestershire Leicestershire (; postal abbreviation Leics.) is a landlocked county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first publishe ...
and
Hampshire Hampshire (, ; abbreviated to Hants) is a Counties of England, county in South East England on the coast of the English Channel. The county town is Winchester, but the county is named after Southampton. Its two largest cities are Southampton a ...
becoming the most successful sides, and in 2013 Northants won their first trophy for two decades.


NatWest T20 Blast

NatWest became the tournament sponsors in 2014, renewing a longstanding relationship the bank had with the county game. The first year of the tournament saw 700,000 spectators attend the games, the most in the competition's history.Freddie Wild
Blast promises to break 1m barrier
CricInfo, 14 May 2015; Retrieved 17 March 2018
The tournament was won in 2014 by the Birmingham Bears, Warwickshire County Cricket Club's name for the purposes of Twenty20 cricket, making it the first time a county trophy had been won by a team using a city name. The final victors of this branding of the tournament in 2017 were Notts Outlaws.


Vitality Blast

Vitality became the tournament sponsors in 2018 after signing a deal to become the title partner for four years.


Competition format

The 18 first-class counties compete for the title, initially playing in two or three geographical divisions, the number varying across the years. In 2018, matches were moved to be played in a block during July and August with the aim of attracting large crowds during the school summer holidays. In seasons with three divisions the top two teams in each division and the two best third place teams qualify for the playoff stage, in seasons with two divisions the top four teams in each division qualify for the playoff stage, with a set of quarter-finals leaving four teams in the competition. The two semi-finals and the final are played on one finals day at
Edgbaston Edgbaston () is an affluent suburban area of central Birmingham, England, historically in Warwickshire, and curved around the southwest of the city centre. In the 19th century, the area was under the control of the Gough-Calthorpe family an ...

Edgbaston
in September. In 2020, due to the delay in the start of the season because of the
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic A pandemic (from , , "all" and , , "local people" the 'crowd') is an of an that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple or worldwide, affecting a substantial numbe ...

COVID-19 pandemic
matches started on 27 August in a three division format, with the quarter finals played on 1 October and the semi-finals and finals on 4 October (postponed due to rain on the third).


Two division format


Northern Division

* Derbyshire Falcons * Durham * Lancashire Lightning *
Leicestershire Foxes Image:Car park end.jpg, The Bennett Road End Leicestershire County Cricket Club is one of eighteen first-class cricket, first-class county cricket, county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales. It represents the Hi ...
* Northamptonshire Steelbacks * Notts Outlaws (Nottinghamshire) * Birmingham Bears (Warwickshire) * Worcestershire Rapids * Yorkshire Vikings


Southern Division

* Essex Eagles *
Glamorgan , HQ = Cardiff Cardiff (; cy, Caerdydd ) is the capital city of Wales and a Local government in Wales, county. Officially known as the City and County of Cardiff, it is the United Kingdom's eleventh-largest city and the main ...
*
Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chamber ...
* Hampshire Hawks * Kent Spitfires *
Middlesex Middlesex (; abbreviation: Middx) is a Historic counties of England, historic county in South East England, southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the Ceremonial counties of En ...
*
Somerset ( en, All The People of Somerset) , locator_map = , coordinates = , region = South West England South West England is one of nine official regions of England The regions, formerly known as the government office regions, are the ...
*
Surrey Surrey () is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and R ...
*
Sussex Sharks Sussex County Cricket Club is the oldest of eighteen first-class county clubs within the domestic cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the cen ...


Three division format


Northern Division

* Derbyshire Falcons * Durham * Lancashire Lightning *
Leicestershire Foxes Image:Car park end.jpg, The Bennett Road End Leicestershire County Cricket Club is one of eighteen first-class cricket, first-class county cricket, county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales. It represents the Hi ...
* Notts Outlaws (Nottinghamshire) * Yorkshire Vikings


Central Division

*
Glamorgan , HQ = Cardiff Cardiff (; cy, Caerdydd ) is the capital city of Wales and a Local government in Wales, county. Officially known as the City and County of Cardiff, it is the United Kingdom's eleventh-largest city and the main ...
*
Gloucestershire Gloucestershire ( abbreviated Glos) is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chamber ...
* Northamptonshire Steelbacks *
Somerset ( en, All The People of Somerset) , locator_map = , coordinates = , region = South West England South West England is one of nine official regions of England The regions, formerly known as the government office regions, are the ...
* Birmingham Bears (Warwickshire) * Worcestershire Rapids


Southern Division

* Essex Eagles * Hampshire Hawks * Kent Spitfires *
Middlesex Middlesex (; abbreviation: Middx) is a Historic counties of England, historic county in South East England, southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the Ceremonial counties of En ...
*
Surrey Surrey () is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William and R ...
*
Sussex Sharks Sussex County Cricket Club is the oldest of eighteen first-class county clubs within the domestic cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the cen ...


Winners

Finals day has been held annually towards the end of the English cricket season.


Performance by county


References

{{Champions League Twenty20 English domestic cricket competitions Twenty20 cricket leagues Sports leagues established in 2003 Recurring sporting events established in 2003 Professional cricket leagues Professional sports leagues in the United Kingdom NatWest t20 Blast