The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have announced the English domestic 2015 fixtures with Friday night NatWest T20 Blast action at the heart of next season’s county programme.
It’s that time of year in England when you dash to buy next year’s diary and fill in your summer’s cricket-watching plans. It’s when we all have hope, when players start a new season with the sky as the limit. Some dreams will thrive, others will be cast aside, but for now, it’s time to dream and plan.
Overall, 87 out of 126 matches in the NatWest T20 Blast competition will be staged on Friday nights with the majority of counties set to play five matches in this time slot as part of ECB’s wider goal to provide regular ‘appointments to view’ for fans.
Subject to fitness, England players will be available to their counties for the eight NatWest T20 Blast matches scheduled to be played on Friday June 5th.
“We were delighted that the new, revamped county schedule met with such a positive response from fans last year and particularly pleased that a record number of people – more than 700,000 – watched the NatWest T20 Blast competition across the season,” said ECB Chief Operating Officer Gordon Hollins. “It’s important to re-emphasise that the new schedule we introduced last season was based firmly around extensive customer research and designed to reflect the fans’ desire for dedicated ‘appointments to view’ county cricket.
“The 2015 fixture list repeats last season’s successful formula and we trust it will also produce exciting and compelling cricket which will help bring even more people to our county game.”
The first round of matches in the LV= County Championship will see newly promoted Worcestershire face champions Yorkshire for their opening match in the top flight on Sunday April 12. The following week the champions will head down the M1 to face Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge where they clinched the LV= County Championship trophy last season.
“It is always an eagerly-anticipated day for players’ and supporters’ when the fixtures are released and I’ll be spending the next few days digesting the list,” said Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale. “It is going to be a competitive start and with four Championship matches in the opening month of the campaign it is imperative that we get off to a good start. We showed last season that a positive can drive momentum for the rest of the season.
“I think the standard of cricket will improve in 2015. Every county in the top-flight will be looking to put in their best performances when they play us. That will always happen when you are the strongest county and we will be fully aware of the pressures on us going into the season.”
The second NatWest T20 Blast competition gets underway on Friday May 15 with 18 counties set to battle it out for the title which will be decided on finals day at Edgbaston on Saturday August 29. Current champions, Birmingham Bears, will begin the defence of their title against Notts Outlaws at Trent Bridge while last year’s runners-up Lancashire Lightning will start their campaign against Leicestershire Foxes.
The Royal London One-Day Cup will return in its 50-over format on Saturday July 25 when 2014 champions Durham will hope to continue their winning ways with an away trip to Northamptonshire. The one-day action will continue throughout the summer, culminating in the final of the competition at Lord’s on Saturday September 19.
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James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
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