The action begins on Friday, when the Birmingham Bears, who are the defending champions, Travel to Nottinghamshire in an interesting match up.
Unlike in other international T20 leagues, the Big Blast is made up of country teams as opposed to franchises. Many have debated if this is best for the development of the English game but one thing it does provide is rivalry and history. Lancashire vs Yorkshire the most intriguing and bitter fixture as always, is a must see in particular. The Manchester United vs Liverpool of the cricket world, you could say!
The addition of an increasing amount of new foreign stars has caught the imagination of the general public ahead of the 2015 edition. New Zealand captain, Brendon McCullum, joining the Birmingham Bears. Whilst Chris Gayle finally joined Somerset, having almost moved to the Southern county previously.
McCullum’s Birmingham Bears are the reigning champions, having won the crown for the first time on home soil last summer. They will surely be strong contenders once again you feel, with a stellar line up. Although the likes Hampshire, Yorkshire, Surrey and Lancashire – feature as the best of the rest to displace the Midlands side from their perch.
Surrey have managed to lure Sri Lankan legend, Kumar Sangakararra, to their roster in another Hollywood signing. He will join international compatriot, Tillakartane Dilshan, at the Kia Oval. Controversial superstar, Kevin Pietersen, also features alongside young hot shot, Jason Roy, in a strong batting line up.
Traditional powerhouses of the English game, Yorkshire, will no doubt be up there also – with an array of stars to call upon. The likes of Joe Root, Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch, Kane Williamson, Liam Plunkett and Cheteshwar Pujara – make up a side to be reckoned with. Although rivals Lancashire will have something to say about that, having made last year’s final!
Some homegrown talents to look out for would be Jason Roy of Surrey, who enjoyed a superb tournament last summer, earning an England call-up in the process. England wicketkeeper, Jos Buttler, is another explosive hitter to watch out for at Lancashire.
Alex Hales of Nottinghamshire, who put on such a spectacular innings v Sri Lanka at the last T20 World Cup, is also tipped to shine. On the bowling side – Surrey pace man, Matt Dunn, is an exciting talent.
It may not have the superstars, glitz or glamour of the IPL but the Big Blast is a good alternative league for cricket lovers to follow. It is a new, growing league but with talk of an EPL being put in place featuring franchises, it may not be around for too much longer in all honesty. However for now it is a good platform to watch some of the world’s biggest stars in action, as well as some of cricket’s oldest and most bitter rivalries.