T20 Blast
Calum MacLeod on his way to hitting this year's first half-century for the Durham Jets ECB

The Natwest T20 Blast gets under way on Friday with 14 counties competing to topple reigning champions Northamptonshire.

Re-launched under the 'Blast' brand name, the short format tournament has captured the imagination of crowds with its pumping soundtracks, slogging batsmen and carnival atmosphere.

In a bid to boost attendances, a total of 87 of the 126 group stage matches will take place on Fridays with the finals day being held at Edgbaston on August 23.

An inspiration for the wildly popular Indian Premier League, England's T20 tournament sees clubs play in colourful kits and comprise current and retired players.

Sides also adopt nicknames, like in the IPL, such as the Birmingham Bears, Sussex Sharks and Yorkshire Vikings.

Joe Root
Joe Root dives to make it home in time for the Yorkshire Vikings ECB

All 18 clubs from Divisions One and Two will begin their journey in a group of nine with the top four, from each going through to the quarter-finals.

Lancashire wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler told the BBC the new schedule, which means the competition takes 10 weeks to complete, was not ideal.

"You want to be able to have specific training sessions and have a bit of time to prepare for the T20," he said.

"It will be really good to get the crowds in on Friday nights, but I think it's a real challenge for the players to find the time to practice their T20 skills in between the four-day matches."