Vitality Blast 2019 - Team by Team, County by County....Who to Watch out for...
Here is the run down of the Vitality Blast 2019 - Team by Team, County by County.....Players to watch out for, overseas signings and lots more......
Titles: 1 (2014)
Finals Days: 3
Coach: Jim Troughton – No-one could be more Bears through and through. Scorer of 13,885 runs across the formats for the club, Troughton's positive style as coach, just as it was as batsman, is well-suited to T20 cricket.
Captain: Jeetan Patel – Now seriously challenging Allan Donald as Warwickshire's greatest overseas player, Kiwi off-spinner 'Jeets' will lead the team in the Blast for the first time having taken over from retired countryman Grant Elliott.
Overseas signings: Jeetan Patel (New Zealand), Ashton Agar (Australia).
The Narrative: Fired by the unique incentive of playing in Finals Day on their home ground, the Bears will seek to bounce back from a disappointing 2018 campaign when inconsistency saw them fail to escape the North Group.
Star Man: Olly Stone - England's paceman, fit again after a long injury lay-off will be looking to send plenty of stumps flying.
Mr Consistency: Jeetan Patel -The spinner's four mid-innings overs - accurate, aggressive and full of variation - have terminally trussed up the innings of countless opponents.
Under the radar: Matt Lamb - An academy product whose first-team opportunities have been limited but has the strokes and the power to make a major impact in the Blast.
Killer stat: 29 Bears players have scored half-centuries in T20 cricket with Ian Bell having done so most times - 16.
Titles - 0
Final Days - 0
Coach: Dominic Cork - One of Derbyshire's greatest players, he takes over as head coach after working with John Wright for the past two T20 campaigns. He captained Hampshire to the T20 title in 2010.
Captain: Billy Godleman - No longer just a stubborn red-ball opener, Godleman has blossomed into a white-ball blaster and went 'Billy-istic' in this season's Royal London One-Day Cup, scoring 521 runs, including three centuries, at an average of 74. His unbeaten 107 from 62 balls at Headingley proved he is ready for Blast-off.
Overseas signings: Logan van Beek (New Zealand).
The Narrative: After Kane Richardson withdrew to focus on the World Cup, Derbyshire turned to another Aussie paceman Billy Stanlake only for injury to rule him out. It means Derbyshire will go into the Blast with only one overseas player.
Star Man: Matt Critchley - The 22-year-old is capable of 'X factor' performances as he showed last season when he smashed 22 off the final over by hitting Tim Bresnan for two sixes and two fours to carry The Falcons to an improbable victory at Chesterfield.
Mr Consistency: Wayne Madsen - His 526 runs at an average of 48 with four fifties in 2017 is a Derbyshire record and last season, he scored 328 runs with three more half-centuries. He has opened the bowling in some matches and his off-spin bagged 13 wickets two seasons ago.
Under the radar: Leus du Plooy - The 24-year-old South African is in his first season in English cricket but could be one to watch judging by his 75 off 37 balls, which included seven fours and five sixes, in the tied Royal London One-Day Cup game against Yorkshire in April. His left-arm spin provides the Falcons with another bowling option.
Killer stat: T20 cricket has not been a strong suit for Derbyshire in the past. They have only qualified for the quarter-finals twice and are the only county never to make Finals Day.
Finals Days: 2 (2008, 2016)
Coach: James Franklin – The New Zealander served as an assistant under his compatriot Daniel Vettori in the Big Bash for the Brisbane Heat and is in his first Blast season with Durham. Will be hoping for better fortune after the weather denied Durham a place in the knockout stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup earlier this summer.
Captain: Cameron Bancroft – Bancroft has proved his doubters wrong with an impressive stint three months in his Durham career. The Australian arrived in England under a cloud, but has excelled at the crease, allowing his batting to do the talking.
Overseas signings: Cameron Bancroft (Australia), D’Arcy Short (Australia).
The Narrative: Durham were one of the surprise packages in the Vitality Blast last season, finishing second in the North Group as they reached the quarter-finals, only to be defeated by Sussex. With the added power of Short and Bancroft into the line-up and a savvy bowling attack expect Durham to be at least in contention once again for the knockout stages.
Star Man: D’Arcy Short – Durham pulled off a coup last year with the signing of Imran Tahir. They’ve done it again with Short. The powerful 28-year-old was the leading run scorer and the BBL Player of the Year in the 2018/19 season, achieving the feat for the second year in a row for the Hobart Hurricanes.
Mr Consistency: Chris Rushworth – Although he didn’t quite get the wickets that he normally collects in the Championship, Rushworth was excellent in the Blast last term. His economy rate of 7.58 across 13 games, bowling in the powerplay highlighted his importance to the team. There are not many bowlers more reliable than Rushworth in the county game.
Under the radar: Ben Raine – Durham will likely not see a great deal of Ben Stokes during the Blast, but in Raine they have a solid replacement. Raine has been impressive since his return to the Riverside with the ball in the Championship. The all-rounder will be expected to play a significant part in Durham’s push for the knockout stage in both disciplines.
Killer stat: Before the 2019 Blast, only one Durham player has scored a century in T20 cricket – Paul Collingwood in 2017 against Worcestershire at New Road.
Finals Days: 4
Coach: Anthony McGrath - The former Yorkshire captain stepped up to take over as head coach from the England-bound Chris Silverwood at the end of the Championship-winning 2017 season. Essex have performed considerably better against the red ball than the white under his leadership.
Captain: Simon Harmer - The South African all-rounder is having his first taste of T20 captaincy after taking over the role from Ryan ten Doeschate. The off-spinner enjoyed success in the short format when he helped Jozi Stars to the inaugural Mzansi Super League title in South Africa during the winter.
Overseas signing: Mohammad Amir (Pakistan - plays eight of the first 10 games), Adam Zampa (Australia).
The Narrative: Essex are the great underachievers of T20 cricket having made it to just four Finals Days - their most recent in 2013 - and never beyond lunch when they have got to the showpiece day. They have finished second-bottom and third-bottom in the South Group in the past two seasons, so need a massive improvement.
Star Man: Mohammad Amir - The Pakistan quick returns following a personally satisfying World Cup campaign in which he took 17 wickets. He claimed 14 T20 scalps when he played for Essex in 2017 at an economy rate of 6.78, often conceding less than 20 runs from his four overs.
Mr Consistency: Varun Chopra - Has become something of a white-ball specialist in recent years, topping the Essex run aggregate charts in the past two T20 campaigns with a combined 930 runs. His clean striking of the ball brought him an eye-popping 26 sixes in the 2017 season.
Under the radar: Adam Wheater - The rapidly maturing gloveman was elevated last season to lay the foundations alongside fellow opener Varun Chopra. With the signing of Cameron Delport, Wheater’s rapid run-accumulation will be put to equally good use towards the latter stages of Essex innings.
Killer Stat: Cameron Delport’s 49-ball ton for Islamabad United against Lahore Qalanders in March was the fastest century scored in Pakistan Super League history.
Finals Days: 2
Coach: James Foster - The former Essex and England wicketkeeper-batsman will work alongside Matthew Maynard as a T20 consultant for the duration of the competition. Foster has previously been involved with various teams including Worcestershire and the England Lions.
Captain: Colin Ingram – The South African leads by example and will take the captaincy for the second successive year. Ingram has been the club’s outstanding batsman in one-day cricket since he signed in 2015, and during the winter appeared in numerous T20 competitions including the IPL and the Big Bash.
Overseas signing: Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan – first eight games), Mitch Marsh (Australia – joins after four games at least).
The Narrative: Glamorgan have reached just two Finals Days – albeit the last two summers ago – but enter this year’s tournament in high spirits with just one defeat in the Championship and designs on promotion.
Star Man: Colin Ingram – The skipper has been Glamorgan’s leading runscorer for the past three years and his performances have been rewarded with inclusion in all the leading T20 competitions around the world. At his best he Ingram a destructive hitter capable of changing the course of a game in a few overs.
Mr Consistency: Graham Wagg – The 36-year-old all-rounder is one of those players that continues to endure on the domestic scene with a combination of smarts with the ball, heavy hitting with the bat and a competitive instinct to ensure he remains a key part of Glamorgan’s ambitions.
Under the Radar: Dan Douthwaite – Signed at the start of the season after impressing with Cardiff MCCU, the 22-year-old bats in the middle order, can strike the ball vast distances and is also a useful medium pace bowler. He gave a glimpse of his all-round potential in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Sussex during the Royal London One-Day Cup and will have an eye on making a Blast impact.
Killer Stat: Ingram holds the Glamorgan record of scoring the fastest century in T20 cricket - 46 balls against Sussex at Arundel in 2017.
Finals Days: 2
Head Coach: Richard Dawson – The former Yorkshire and England off-spinner took charge of the team in 2015 and led them to victory over Surrey in the Royal London One-Day Cup final at Lord’s that season. He played for Gloucestershire between 2009 and 2011.
Captain: Michael Klinger – The experienced Australian batsman is back for a seventh season with Gloucestershire, playing only in the Vitality Blast, having established himself as one of the most popular overseas signings ever to represent Gloucestershire.
Overseas signings: Michael Klinger (Australia), Andrew Tye (Australia)
The Narrative: While Gloucestershire’s prime objective this summer is promotion in the County Championship, head coach Richard Dawson anticipates a strong Vitality Blast challenge, having seen his side only miss out on a place in the knock-out stages of the Royal London One-Day Cup on run-rate.
Star Man: Andrew Tye – A late developer, the seamer was 26 when he made his debut for Western Australia. Now 32, he was a member of the Australia A squad, who visited England this summer, having been capped by his country in T20 and one-day internationals.
Mr Consistency: Benny Howell – The 30-year-old all-rounder has become renowned for his variety of delivery as a medium-pacer in one-day cricket, using different grips on the ball to regularly bamboozle batsmen.
Under the radar: Tom Smith – The former Middlesex left-arm spinner has become an integral member of Gloucestershire’s T20 side since joining the county in 2013, bowling in mid-innings with a consistently good economy rate.
Killer stat: Gloucestershire have never won the County Championship or the Twenty20 Cup, finishing second six times in the longer format, and losing to Kent at Edgbaston in the final of the 2007 T20 Cup, their best effort in the competition.
Titles: 2 (2010,2012)
Finals Days: 7
Coach: Adi Birrell – The popular South African arrived at the Ageas Bowl in the winter and already has a runners-up medal to his name in the Royal London One-Day Cup. He has plenty of experience having led Ireland at the 2007 World Cup, along with stints with the Proteas and England Under 19s.
Captain: James Vince – Vince has been Hampshire’s T20 captain since 2013, skippering his county to Finals Day four times during his reign. Having been a member of England’s World Cup squad, he’ll be aiming to continue his successes this summer.
Overseas signing: Chris Morris (South Africa)
The Narrative: Hampshire are out for redemption and revenge. The county suffered their worst T20 campaign in over a decade when they managed just two wins last year. James Vince’s men are still hurting from their Royal London One-Day Cup final defeat to Somerset; but little is more dangerous than a wounded animal.
Star Man: Rilee Rossouw - Has the nickname ‘The Entertainer’ for a reason; crowds are rarely bored when he is at the crease with his power-hitting among the best in the competition. The South African’s strike-rate of 146 for Hampshire is by far the highest in the current side.
Mr Consistency: Liam Dawson - Second in the Hampshire statistics for wickets, runs and catches in 2018, there aren’t too many more rounded all-rounders than Dawson. The left-arm spinner epitomises control in all aspects of his game.
Under the radar: Aneurin Donald – The big hitting batsman is striking (literally!) his form at the right time. The Welshman recently hit 225 runs at a strike-rate of 118 in a Specsavers County Championship match to warm himself up for the Blast.
Killer stat: No team has more than Hampshire’s seven Finals Day appearances.
Titles: 1 (2007)
Finals Days: 2
Coach: Matt Walker – Mid-way through his third season at the helm, Walker still holds the record for the highest first-class individual score at Canterbury (275* v Somerset in 1996). An innovative, hard-working coach popular with players and supporters alike, he has assisted England’s T20I preparations for the past two summers.
Captain: Heino Kuhn – Will act as interim skipper in the absence of Sam Billings, whose return to full fitness following shoulder surgery is imminent. A forceful batsman, Kuhn brings South African grit, dynamism and a determination to win to the leadership role.
Overseas signings: Adam Milne (New Zealand), Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan).
The Narrative: Backed by dynamic fielding, no holds barred batting and overall nous with the ball, the Spitfires have excelled in white-ball cricket for the past three seasons without clearing the final hurdle to Finals Day. The mystery of Afghanistan spinner Mohammad Nabi and the return of Kiwi firebrand Adam Milne for a third Kentish stint will strengthen their hand.
Star Man: Joe Denly – The PCA player of the year for 2018 topped Kent’s T20 batting averages last summer with 409 runs at a strike rate of 145. A classy batsman and athletic fielder, he also took 20 wickets with his vastly improved leg-spin to top the Spitfires’ bowling averages.
Mr Consistency: Daniel Bell-Drummond – The former England Lions batsman has underpinned Kent’s recent white-ball success with his stand-and-deliver approach to top-order batting. With over 2,000 runs in the format at a strike rate of 133.74, he will be looking to add to his one T20 century (112* v Surrey at Tunbridge Wells, 2016).
Under the radar: Alex Blake – A Kent academy graduate and white-ball specialist whose ‘range hitting’ can turn a game on its head in a handful of overs. A dynamic fielder with a gun arm and safe pair of hands, his best form is crucial to Kent success.
Killer stat: 294 - Nabi’s wicket-total from his combined 283 T20 appearances in domestic T20 leagues and Afghanistan. He has taken 10 four-wicket hauls and boasts an economy rate under seven-an-over.
Titles: 1 (2015)
Finals Days: 7
Coach: Glen Chapple - A talismanic all-rounder who retired with 985 first-class wickets and nearly 9,000 runs to his name. The 45-year-old captained the Red Rose to Championship title success in 2011. Four Finals Day appearances to his name as a player and was assistant coach when they won it in 2015.
Captain: Dane Vilas - An experienced South African wicketkeeper-batsman with a solitary T20 international appearance to his name. First season as full-time skipper, he led them at stages last season with Liam Livingstone injured. In the winter, he captain Jozi Stars to the inaugural Mzansi Super League title in South Africa.
Overseas signings: James Faulkner (Australia), Glenn Maxwell (Australia).
Narrative: Lancashire, on paper, must be one of the favourites to win this summer’s Blast. They have all bases covered, power in bucketloads with the bat, bowling options - seam and spin - aplenty, gun fielders galore and lots of T20 experience. Can they put it all together and secure a second crown?
Star man: Glenn Maxwell - The Aussie is ranked by the ICC as the world’s best all-rounder in T20 cricket and the third best batsman. A three-dimensional cricketer, he will empty the bars at Emirates Old Trafford and around the North Group grounds. His off-spin bowling was heavily utilised in the early-season Royal London One-Day Cup.
Mr Consistency: Steven Croft - Captained the side to their only title so far in 2015 and made 148 consecutive career T20 appearances for the Lightning between June 2006 and last July, an English record. Bats, bowls and, at 34, is still one of the best fielders going around.
Under the radar: Richard Gleeson - When you consider some of Lancashire’s bowling options in James Faulkner, Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Parkinson, it is fair to say that the 31-year-old ex-Northants quick, may not grab many headlines. But he had a solid record in T20 prior to his debut campaign with the Lightning - 34 wickets in 31 appearances - and his extra pace could be useful on tired Old Trafford pitches.
Killer stat: Prior to 2019, no other county had won more than Lancashire’s 104 T20 matches since the format’s inception in 2003. Only Nottinghamshire (103) and Warwickshire/Birmingham (101) had topped 100.
Titles: 3 (2004, 2006, 2011)
Finals Days: 5
Coach: Paul Nixon - Ebullient former Leicestershire, Kent and England wicketkeeper-batsman who played a major role in the county's early T20 successes, now tasked with returning the Foxes to the top of the T20 pile.
Captain: Colin Ackermann - The South African batsman, who is also qualified for Holland, faces a tough challenge getting the best from a squad lacking a specialist overseas signing this season.
Overseas signings: None
The Narrative: Leicestershire reached the quarter-finals of the competition two seasons ago, losing at Glamorgan, but while the current squad will not lack enthusiasm and determination, there are question marks over both strength in depth and quality.
Star Man: Colin Ackermann - A fine striker of the ball who also bowls off-spin well enough to have 30 T20 wickets to his name.
Mr Consistency: Mark Cosgrove - Coming into this year's competition, the South Australian had hit 1,241 T20 runs for Leicestershire – only current head coach Paul Nixon (1,423) has scored more.
Under the radar: Callum Parkinson - His leg-spinning twin brother Matt of Lancashire may be better known, but Leicestershire left-arm spinner Callum took 15 wickets for the Foxes in last season's T20.
Killer stat: Last season Leicestershire made their highest-ever T20 score, 229 for three, against Warwickshire at Edgbaston. Six Leicestershire batsmen have hit centuries in T20, but only once has an opposing batsmen scored a hundred against them - Alviro Petersen, for Lancashire, at Grace Road in 2016.
Titles: 1 (2008)
Finals Days: 1
Coach: Stuart Law – The former Australia star arrived over the winter to take charge in all formats, resulting in the departure of Daniel Vettori after two largely unsuccessful campaigns as Middlesex T20 coach.
Captain: Dawid Malan – Barring an Ashes call-up, Malan should captain the side for the duration of the tournament and, if so, will provide a consistency of leadership in this format not seen at Lord’s in recent years.
Overseas signings: AB De Villiers (South Africa – available for at least the first seven matches),
Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan).
The Narrative: To reference D: Ream’s 1997 hit, ‘Things can only get better,’ as far as Middlesex and T20 are concerned. They finished bottom of the South Group last season with just two wins, losing their final eight games. However, the Seaxes’ white-ball game showed notable signs of improvement in the Royal London One-Day Cup where they reached the play-offs and they’ll be aiming for a similar leap forward in T20.
Star Man: Paul Stirling - While he will miss some of Middlesex’s early games due to Test commitments with Ireland, hard-hitting Stirling provides an explosive presence at the top of the batting order, having racked up over 4,500 runs in T20 cricket.
Mr Consistency: Nathan Sowter - Leg-spinner Sowter has developed an encouraging knack of taking wickets in T20 during the last two years, especially in his first over.
Under the radar: George Scott - All-rounder Scott has featured regularly for the first XI this season and, as well as hitting the ball a long way, he is an outstanding fielder either inside the circle or guarding the boundary.
Killer stat: Tom Helm’s figures of 5-11 against Essex in 2017 are the best by a Middlesex bowler in T20.
Titles: 1 (2017)
Finals Days: 4
Head Coach: Peter Moores – The former England coach won county championship titles with both Sussex and Lancashire and continued his winning ways by lifting both the Vitality Blast and the RLODC with Notts in 2017.
Captain: Dan Christian – The Australia international captained Notts to their success on Finals Day 2017. Returns to Trent Bridge for his fifth season with the Outlaws.
Overseas signings: Dan Christian (Australia).
The Narrative: Notts can’t wait to turn their back on a poor red-ball season and resume their quest for limited-overs glory. The white-ball specialists have reached the knockout stages in eight of the past nine years and amongst the new crop of signings, both Ben Duckett (twice with Northants) and Joe Clarke (last year with Worcestershire) have won this competition. Alex Hales and Harry Gurney should also be available throughout for another tilt at reaching Finals Day.
Star Man: Alex Hales – Perhaps with a point to prove, perhaps not, Hales will welcome the opportunity to show that his enforced lay-off hasn’t diminished his talents. One of the cleanest white-ball strikers in world cricket, his flying starts will be invaluable to the Outlaws.
Mr Consistency: David Gurney – The left-armer further furnished his reputation as an expert death bowler as he helped the Melbourne Renegades to the Big Bash title in the winter before joining up with Kolkata in the IPL. His ability to deliver under pressure is a cornerstone of Notts’ ambitions.
Under The Radar: Matt Carter – Ish Sodhi’s absence this year should give regular opportunities to the Lincolnshire-born off-spinner, who has already impressed in fleeting red-ball and 50-over appearances. Could be key to Notts’ chances.
Killer Stat: Notts reached an aggregate of 100 victories in domestic T20 cricket last season and Samit Patel has featured in 93 of the wins. The all-rounder was there when the competition started in 2003 and begins this campaign with 168 appearances, only one behind Kent’s Darren Stevens, who has played the most.
Titles: 1 (2005)
Finals Days: 6
Head Coach: Jason Kerr – The Lancastrian played as an all-rounder for the club between 1993 and 2001 before moving to Derbyshire. Put in charge of the team for the 2018 season after serving as bowling coach.
Captain: Lewis Gregory – Prolific all-rounder with genuine England aspirations. Took his 250th first class wicket this season and capable of destroying bowling attacks with the bat.
Overseas signings: Jerome Taylor (West Indies), Babar Azam (Pakistan)
The Narrative: Director of Cricket Andy Hurry has publicly targeted Somerset winning all three domestic trophies this summer. So far, his confidence has been justified by the club winning the Royal London One-Day Cup and sitting second in the Specsavers County Championship, a competition they have never won.
Star Man: Jamie Overton - Having worked on a greater variety of delivery, the tall seamer with genuine pace claimed 24 wickets in last summer's Vitality Blast, a tally bettered by only two other bowlers in the competition.
Mr Consistency: Max Waller – The experienced leg-spinner has developed into a T20 specialist, renowned for his miserly economy rate and not afraid to open the attack when called upon.
Under the radar: Tom Banton – The 20-year-old batsman announced himself with a brilliant Royal London One-Day Cup campaign this season and is already being compared to Jos Buttler for his range of strokes all around the wicket.
Killer stat: Lewis Gregory had a strike-rate of 202.46 in last season’s Vitality Blast, the highest by any batsman who made more than three appearances. Somerset’s captain played in all their 16 matches, averaging 46.85.
Titles: 1 (2003)
Finals Days: 6
Coach: Michael Di Venuto – Has been quietly effective in charge at the Kia Oval since his arrival in 2016, with last year’s Specsavers County Championship title the biggest feather in his coaching cap to date.
Captain: Jade Dernbach – Has not played yet this season in any format due to his rehabilitation from a long-term calf injury but the 33-year-old pace bowler, with 58 England white-ball caps, impressed as Surrey’s short-form captain last year.
Overseas players: Aaron Finch (Australia), Imran Tahir (South Africa)
The Narrative: Since winning the inaugural Twenty20 Cup in 2003 the Brown Caps have been runners-up twice, in 2004 and 2013, and also made Finals Day appearances in 2005, 2006 and 2014. Since then they have suffered short-form frustration, including just missing out on a quarter-final place last season. But the winter signings of Liam Plunkett and Jordan Clark, and the arrival of leg spinner Imran Tahir as overseas player alongside Australian batsman Aaron Finch, who returns for a fourth successive season, boost an already highly-talented squad.
Star man: Aaron Finch – The opener plundered 589 runs from only nine innings in last year’s South Group fixtures, five of them unbeaten, averaging a remarkable 147.25 and scoring two hundreds and three fifties.
Mr Consistency: Rikki Clarke – The all-rounder will be 38 in September but since his return to his native county towards the end of the 2017 season he has been a model of consistency and high standards with both bat and ball. In last year’s Vitality Blast he was an ever-present with 235 runs at an average of 47 and 16 wickets at 23.56 runs apiece. In 160 career T20 matches, Clarke has scored 2,245 runs and taken 112 wickets.
Under the radar: Will Jacks, still only 20, already has championship and List A hundreds to his name and has the power and range of strokes to explode in T20 cricket too. A brilliant fielder, he also bowls useful off-spin.
Killer stat: They say T20 is a young man’s game, which must make Surrey one of the big favourites for the Vitality Blast title this year. The super-talented youthful group of Tom Curran (24), Sam Curran (21), Ollie Pope (21), Conor McKerr (21), Ryan Patel (21), Will Jacks (20) and Jamie Smith (19) have already more than made their mark in Surrey’s first team across all formats – and in some cases with England too – and they will all provide energy and enthusiasm in and around the county’s short form squad.
Titles: 1 (2009)
Finals Days: 4
Coach: Jason Gillespie - Former Australian fast bowler who has won the Big Bash with Adelaide Strikers.
Captain: Luke Wright - Wright leads from the front with explosive batting at the top of the innings. Hugely experienced, he has played 51 T20 internationals and was part of the England team that won the 2010 World Cup.
Overseas signings: Rashid Khan (Afghanistan - first half of tournament), Alex Carey (Australia).
The Narrative: After losing in last year’s final the Sharks are confident of going one better. Despite the likely absence of Jofra Archer they seem to have all the bases covered and they would feel they have underachieved if they don’t make Finals Day again.
Star Man: Alex Carey - A real coup to sign the Australian one-day star who has won the Big Bash with Adelaide Strikers and was named in the Team of the Tournament for the World Cup. A top-class keeper, he has a T20 strike rate of 128.93 and will play a key role in the top five.
Mr Consistency: Will Beer – The leg-spinner has become an integral part of Sussex’s T20 team during 12 years at the county. He rarely gets clobbered and has a habit of getting good batsmen out.
Under the radar: Reece Topley – Topley was good enough to play for England in 16 white-ball internationals and having recovered from back injuries he has a huge incentive to re-launch his career.
Killer stat: When he made a half-century in last year’s final, it was Luke Wright’s 300th T20 appearance. Of English players, only Ryan ten Doeschate and Ravi Bopara have played more.
Titles: 1 (2018)
Finals Days: 1
Coach: Alex Gidman – Part of the successful Gloucestershire one-day side of the 2000s. In charge of Vitality Blast-winning side last summer in partnership with Alan Richardson.
Captain: Moeen Ali – The England all-rounder led the Rapids to glory at Edgbaston last September with two fine displays on Finals Day. Brett D’Oliveira is the official white-ball vice-captain in his absence.
Overseas signings: Martin Guptill (New Zealand - available for 11 of the Blast group games plus any quarter-final or Finals Day if Worcestershire qualify).
The Narrative: After losing several quarter-finals, the confidence gained from the 2018 final win over Sussex was massive and there is a belief in the squad that they can make a strong defence of their title after being one of the leading sides in all white-ball cricket in recent seasons.
Star Man: Pat Brown - He was the leading wicket-taker in the competition last summer with 31 victims and only injuries prevented him from being picked up by various franchises during the winter. Is now back fit and looking to repeat last year’s heroics.
Mr Consistency: Ben Cox - Time and time again the wicketkeeper-batsman has been the player for the big occasion as demonstrated with his two man-of-the-match awards on 2018 Finals Day but also chips in with crucial contributions on a regular basis.
Under the radar: Brett D’Oliveira - His leg-spin bowling, ability to score quickfire runs and brilliant fielding makes him an invaluable member of the side alongside big names like Martin Guptill, Riki Wessels, Callum Ferguson and Ross Whiteley.
Killer stat: Martin Guptill scored the second fastest ever domestic T20 century last summer against Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Wantage Road off 35 balls.
Finals Days: 2
Coach: Andrew Gale - Former captain who led the side to their only Blast final to date, in 2012. Yorkshire’s leading T20 run-scorer (2,260) is in his third season as coach.
Captain: Steve Patterson - A seamer whose contributions are key for the White Rose in all formats, he hasn’t always been a regular pick in T20 cricket. This is his first full season as skipper, but he led last season’s entire Blast campaign.
Overseas signings: Nicholas Pooran (West Indies - available for the first five games).
Narrative: With only two Finals Day appearances to their name (2012, 2016), the Vikings have underachieved in this format. A side who posted 260 for four against Northants two summers ago - English T20’s highest team total - should be doing far better.
Star man: David Willey - England commitments have ceased for now, meaning he should be available for the entire competition. An all-rounder with star quality and history of taking the Blast by storm. In 2013, he was man-of-the-match in ex-county Northamptonshire's final win over Surrey at Edgbaston, scoring 60 and taking four wickets, including a hat-trick.
Mr Consistency: Adam Lyth - The left-handed opener, so long as he does not suffer a last-minute injury, will become Yorkshire’s all-time leading T20 run-scorer during 2019. With 2,240 to his name, he is only 20 behind coach Andrew Gale. Late last year, the 31-year-old - also a gun fielder and a handy off-spin bowler - went beyond 100 T20 appearances for the Vikings.
Under the radar: Jonny Tattersall - The county’s first-choice wicketkeeper may well be given a break from taking the gloves during the first five matches with Pooran around, but his busy style of batting could be crucial late in an innings. Should build on one fifty in last season’s debut campaign.
Killer stat: Prior to this season, Yorkshire had reached or topped 200 in an innings on 16 occasions. Six of those scores were achieved in the past two campaigns.
*Overseas signings due to be available for entire tournament unless stated.
©Cricket World 2019