Derbyshire have sacrificed one of their T20 Blast home games to be part of the tournament’s ‘Blast Off’ curtain-raiser at Edgbaston on May 20. The tournament will launch in 2023 with Birmingham Bears against Yorkshire and Derbyshire against Lancashire, in a double-header that will be televised live on Sky Sports. They will be the only fixtures scheduled on the Blast’s opening day.
As a result, Derbyshire will only play six T20s within the county borders next year – five at Derby, and one at Chesterfield – but Mickey Arthur, their head of cricket, said that the club are “really happy to be part” of a showpiece occasion.
“The fact is we still get five home games at Derby, and we still get the Chesterfield game which is always a great occasion,” Arthur told Derbyshire’s YouTube channel. “This just adds – certainly for us, as players and support staff – a lot of excitement to the start of our Vitality Blast season.”
He suggested that if Derbyshire reach Finals Day – which also takes place at Edgbaston, on July 15 – for only the second time in their history, the experience of having played in front of a big crowd at the venue earlier in the season would prove beneficial.
“It’s going to be a fantastic occasion,” Arthur said. “We’re really happy to be part of it. We want our players to play on the big stage and play under pressure more often. I’m all for occasions like this: there will be a big crowd in and I know this will make our players better, and hopefully give us a little taste of what potentially Finals Day could be like down the line.”
Derbyshire members and ‘Blast pass’ holders will be able to buy free tickets, while other supporters who have attended matches in recent seasons will have access to a priority ticketing window. The club were contacted for comment.
The ECB said in a press release: “Vitality Blast Off is set to give fans their first opportunity to watch some of England’s newly-crowned men’s T20 world champions in action.”
However, the double-header is expected to clash with the end of the IPL’s group stage, which would rule out the involvement of Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone and Jonny Bairstow.
Men’s county and women’s regional fixtures will be released in full on November 30, with the Hundred’s 2023 schedule due to follow at a later date.