The fixtures to watch out for in this season’s Vitality Blast
The fixtures for the 2019 Vitality Blast have been announced and, as always, county cricket supporters will have their eyes on some key dates in the calendar.
Worcestershire Rapids were champions in 2018 and the battle to succeed them in 2019 will conclude with the Edgbaston final on September 21.
Here, Press Association Sport picks out some of the key fixtures.
It is the oldest rivalry in English cricket and, with no red-ball contests between the two sides in 2019, the Roses battle will take place in the Royal London One-Day Cup and the Blast.
Lancashire travel to Headingley on July 25 before welcoming Yorkshire to Old Trafford on August 9 – both games that will almost certainly be sell-out occasions.
The Lightning hold bragging rights in the Blast having won both contests in 2018, edging a thrilling last-ball win at Old Trafford before cruising to a six-wicket victory at Headingley.
Another major rivalry is one of the showpiece occasions in domestic T20 cricket as sell-out crowds witness Surrey’s battle with Middlesex.
Middlesex will travel across London to the Oval on July 23 while Surrey head to Lord’s on August 8.
Last season it was honours even between the pair as Middlesex triumphed at Lord’s while Surrey were victorious in a record-breaking clash at the Oval.
That game in August saw Surrey chase down Middlesex’s joint-highest T20 total of 221-5 with four overs to spare as Aaron Finch hit a 45-ball century and shared a record Blast partnership for Surrey of 194 with Jason Roy.
Worcestershire’s title defence
The Rapids were surprise Blast champions in 2018, even entering Finals Day at Edgbaston as underdogs before defeating Lancashire and Sussex to lift the title.
They begin their quest to become the first side to win consecutive English T20 titles against 2017 champions Notts Outlaws.
Worcestershire will also renew their rivalry with the Birmingham Bears just a day later at New Road.
Glamorgan and Middlesex will be the opposition for Gloucestershire at the hugely-popular Cheltenham Cricket Festival.
Those games will be the first played by Gloucestershire in the Blast, with the Glamorgan clash on July 19 and Middlesex arriving on July 25.
Aside from Cheltenham, county cricket at outgrounds is always a highlight of the calendar for supporters and there are a number of such fixtures to look forward to in 2019.
Middlesex will play two of their Vitality Blast fixtures at outgrounds. Richmond plays host to Somerset on August 4 while Sussex are the opposition at Uxbridge on August 24.
Kent take their Blast campaign to their outground at Beckenham with a clash against Hampshire on August 4.
And Derbyshire host their annual fixture at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield on July 20 against Yorkshire.