The NatWest T20 Blast concludes this weekend, with Surrey, Birmingham Bears, Hampshire and Lancashire all set to descend on Edgbaston for the three-match final day to decide the title.
Venue: Edgbaston, Birmingham
Date: Saturday, Aug. 23
Live on: Sky Sports 2
Weather: The BBC is forecasting a chilly day that is expected to reach 16 degrees Celsius, with the odd shower possible throughout the afternoon.
1st Semi Final: Surrey vs. Birmingham Bears at 11 a.m. BST
2nd Semi Final: Hampshire vs. Lancashire at 2:30 p.m. BST
Final: TBD vs. TBD at 6:45 p.m. BST
While the County Championship remains the most prestigious prize on the English domestic circuit, the deciding day of the annual Twenty20 competition has grown to become perhaps the most notable afternoon for England's county clubs.
Indeed, reaching the final four of the T20 Blast is high on the priority list, with Surrey, Birmingham Bears, Hampshire and Lancashire forming the quartet for this year's event.
Surrey will enter the first semi-final against the newly-named Birmingham Bears as clear favourites, after finishing second in the South Division and having easily brushed aside Worcestershire in their quarter-final at The Oval.
The second semi-final, meanwhile, will pit two of the competition's strongest sides against each other, with serial winners Hampshire set to take on a powerful Lancashire outfit.
The key to the opening match of the final day will be the fortunes of Surrey's star batsmen.
In Kevin Pietersen and Jason Roy, Gary Wilson's team possess two of the most explosive players in the competition, who, on their day, can overwhelm any opponent with breathtaking hitting.
However, there is a little of an all-or-nothing feel to Surrey.
With an erratic bowling attack and a batting line-up very reliant upon the aforementioned stars, it can all go wrong for the favourites if Roy and Pietersen don't fire.
Thus, Birmingham will fancy their chances, despite being considered the outsiders among the final four.
Owning economical bowlers in Jeetan Patel and Rikki Clarke, and with England star Ian Bell available to bolster the batting line-up already including the impressive Varun Chopra, the hosts have an evenness across the lineup capable of toppling Surrey.
Easily the best of the two semi-finals, two-time champions Hampshire will take on table-topping Lancashire in the second encounter of the day.
Led by the superb James Vince and Michael Carberry at the top of the order, Hampshire will need to overcome the absence of Australia's Glenn Maxwell and South Africa's Kyle Abbott if they are to succeed against the Lightning.
Aiding their cause will be Danny Briggs, an exceptional limited-overs spinner capable of disrupting the flow of the opposition's innings.
For Lancashire, the success of their final day is likely to rest with returning England pair Jos Buttler and James Anderson.
Despite winning more T20 games than any other county side bar Hampshire since 2003, Lancashire have never been able to capture the trophy, placing an importance on the team's stars to do the heavy lifting this time around.
While supporting players such as Tom Smith, Kabir Ali and Usman Khawaja will be important, it's Buttler and Anderson who will have to fire.
|NatWest T20 Blast Title Odds|
Odds taken from Oddschecker.com.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!