The T20 Blast is part of a new breed of cricket tournament, one that has sprung up in recent years to take advantage of the increased popularity for the T20 format, as well as the additional money pumped into the game via sponsorships. It was founded back in 2014 when cricket was experiencing a surge, and it has positioned itself as a leading tournament going forward.
The NatWest T20 Blast is a cricket league that takes place across England and Wales. It is run by the ECB and it was created as a replacement for FriendsLife T20, set to become the main domestic T20 competition in England and Wales.
The NatWest T20 Blast involves 18 first-class cricket teams, all of which represent counties in England and in Wales. These clubs are split into two divisions, North and South, with 9 teams in each. It begins with a group stage, whereby each team plays home and away games against 6 other teams in their group, and then single games against the remaining two teams.
Two points are awarded for a win in this stage of the competition and 1 point is awarded for a tie or for an abandoned match. As is usually the case, points are very important here and all teams are encouraged to rack up those runs. That’s because once points are taken into account, then the run rate is calculated. So, any teams that end up on the same points will be split depending on their run rate. Because of the structure and the way the points are awarded, this is actually quite common and means that teams usually emphasize attack.
The NatWest T20 Blast was announced in 2013 and the first season took place a year later in 2014. This cup goes back a little further than that though. It was the FriendsLife T20 from 2010 to 2014 and prior to that, all of the way back to 2003, it was simply the Twenty20 Cup.
In fact, back when it was the Twenty20 Cup it was known for being one of the most exciting and the most diverse domestic competitions in European cricket. In the first 7 years of the tournament, before it became sponsored by FriendsLife, there were a total of 6 different winners.
This diversity has not continued in the most recent iterations of the competition, but it has remained an exciting, entertaining tournament that has given fans of English and Welsh cricket plenty to shout about.
Speaking of which, although it is a competition for teams from England and Wales, there is a clear shift toward English teams with very few Welsh teams involved. In fact, in the modern day there is only Glamorgan from Cardiff competiting to represent Wales.
This is an annual competition, so the history books are constantly being rewritten. However, the Leicestershire Foxes were one of the most successful teams early on, being the first team to make it to a total of 3 wins. They played in the Northern League, which is where many of the better teams have played over the years.
The Northamptonshire Steelbacks, who won two titles early on, also played in the northern section, while Hampshire have been one of the more successful teams to come out of the Southern section.
One of the things that has helped to make NatWest T20 Blast a standout competition with the fans is the commitment to offering something different. Finals Day has been a major player in this and is one of the most exciting days in domestic cricket, no matter where you are in the world.
On Finals Day the semi-final and the final are played on the same day, on the same ground and right after one another. The speed of the T20 format allows for this to happen and means that the fans visiting the ground get a full day’s worth of cricket as they potentially watch their team progress from the semi and to the final, before winning it all. This is a spectacle that you don’t get in cricket often and one that is only ever replicated in full-weekend competitions like the Rugby 7s.