|Venue: Edgbaston Date: Saturday 3 October (reserve day Sunday 4 October)|
|Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC local radio; live text coverage and in-play video highlights on the BBC Sport website and app|
A domestic cricket season like no other reaches its end as T20 Blast Finals Day returns to Edgbaston on Saturday.
Surrey, Gloucestershire, Lancashire and Notts Outlaws have made it through to the last four, but potentially find their path to the final and lifting the trophy at the mercy of a dreadful weather forecast.
While a reserve day is available on Sunday, the prospect of the title being decided for the first time by a bowl out is a real possibility.
A reserve day has never been required to complete the semi-finals and final in the past 18 years, but contingency plans are in place should cricket not be possible.
Match officials will do their best to try and complete the shortest possible form of match – five overs for each side – in both the semi-finals and final.
But if no play is possible on both Saturday and Sunday, bowl outs will decide the winners.
How does a bowl out work?
- Five players from each side will bowl over-arm two deliveries each at three stumps from 22 yards away.
- The first bowler from Team A will bowl two deliveries, then the first bowler from Team B will bowl two deliveries.
- The second bowler from Team A will bowl two deliveries, and so on.
- The side which hits the stumps most times shall be the winner.
- If the scores are equal, the same players will bowl one ball each alternately to achieve a result on a ‘sudden death’ basis.
Follow all that? Well, BBC Sport is crossing its fingers the rain stays away and it does not have to come to that while also looking ahead to the two semi-final match-ups.
Surrey v Gloucestershire (11:00 BST)
T20 cricket started on the county schedule in the summer of 2003 as the Twenty20 Cup and the first semi-final at Trent Bridge was contested between Surrey and Gloucestershire.
Surrey beat Gloucestershire that day and went on to be crowned champions, beating Warwickshire in the final.
Such was Surrey’s early dominance in the format, their first defeat came in the final the following year but remarkably, the county have not won the title since that first season.
They arrive at Finals Day in tremendous form, having won eight matches in a row, including Thursday’s 56-run victory against Kent in the quarter-final.
An experienced top-order boasting the likes of Hashim Amla, Jason Roy, T20 specialist Laurie Evans and the exciting power-hitting of Will Jacks is backed-up by a multitude of bowling options including England internationals Liam Plunkett and Reece Topley, new addition Jamie Overton and the canny experience of off-spinner and captain Gareth Batty.
Despite that, watch out for a Gloucestershire side, who despite not having as many household names, know how to win games big and get the most out of their collective skills.
Having won the Central Group with seven wins from 10 matches, they steamrollered Northamptonshire Steelbacks in the quarter-finals, bowling them out for 113 before knocking off the target with more than seven overs to spare.
Seamer Ryan Higgins is joint leading wicket-taker in the competition this season (16 with Notts Outlaws’ Jake Ball), while slow-armer Tom Smith and left-arm seamer David Payne are not far behind.
Spinner Graeme van Buuren has also taken a dozen scalps at an average of just 17.58.
On the batting front, opener Chris Dent and middle-order right-hander Ian Cockbain have both amassed more than 350 runs each in 10 appearances, while fellow opener Miles Hammond also has the ability to clear the ropes.
Despite being limited-overs kings in the late 90s and early noughties, Gloucestershire have never won the T20 title and their last Finals Day appearance came in 2007 when Kent beat them in the final.
Don’t rule out the prospect of them ending that drought this weekend.
Notts Outlaws v Lancashire Lightning (14:30 BST)
The second semi-final pairs two counties who both know what it takes to win on Finals Day at Edgbaston.
The match between Notts and Leicestershire finished in a dramatic tie, with the Outlaws progressing on batting Powerplay countback and courtesy of some unfortunate misfields from the Foxes.
But their record of just one defeat on way to winning the North Group, plus their familiarity with the knockout stages means Notts are a force to be reckoned with.
Dan Christian leads a side packed with batting, all the way down to all-rounders Samit Patel and Steven Mullaney at seven and eight.
Added to that are a host of bowling options both with pace on and off the ball. Seamer Jake Ball, Pakistan spinner Imad Wasim and the variations of Christian and Mullaney are supplemented by the slower options of Patel and Matt Carter.
On the batting front, both Joe Clarke and Ben Duckett have averages hovering above and around 40 this year with Clarke also registering an unbeaten century against Durham in the group stage.
Add England international Alex Hales and the experience of Chris Nash to those two, the Outlaws have the potential to post big scores.
But perhaps niggling at the back of their minds will be their one-run defeat by Worcestershire Rapids in last year’s semi-final when victory seemed all but assured.
Lancashire produced an impressive bowling performance to beat Sussex at Hove by 45 runs in their quarter-final.
Their route to the last eight did see them lose their last two group matches, but the manner in which they dismissed Sussex for just 95 on Thursday suggests their bowling in particular will give them a strong hand.
Liam Livingstone, Matt Parkinson and Tom Bailey have all produced match-winning performances in tight contests.
Top-order runs should also be forthcoming if the likes of Keaton Jennings, Alex Davies and Steven Croft find their groove.
If you’re looking for a head-to-head form guide indicator ahead of this tie, only one of their two group encounters survived the weather with Notts emerging victorious by six wickets at Trent Bridge on 11 September.
The Final (18:45 BST)
Whoever contests this, and when, will depend on a multitude of factors, not at least the weather.
Let’s hope the winner of the final piece of domestic silverware this season is decided on the pitch and not by cricket’s equivalent of a penalty shootout in an indoor cricket school.