This season’s NatWest Blast has set new records for ticket sales, with official attendance rising to 883,000 overall. Finals Day at Edgbaston is also a record sellout, while average attendances among the 18 counties were up to 7500.
The return of the competition to a block in July and August – as well as soaring run rates – seems to have helped the Blast’s growth, despite poor weather causing 16 matches to be abandoned. Taking into account those through the turnstiles to watch the Kia Super League, 907,000 tickets had been sold for domestic T20, before the women’s Finals Day at Hove on Friday.
The 2017 Blast figures were a 7% rise on the previous record, set in 2015 when the competition was played largely on Friday nights from May through to August. Last year saw a slight drop in attendances, partly down to poor weather.
“It’s a genuine pleasure to be able to congratulate all 18 first-class counties for their outstanding efforts in making the 2017 Blast such a hit,” Gordon Hollins, the ECB’s chief operating officer, said.
“The competition moved to a new place in the schedule this year, with all games played in a block in July and August rather than spread through the summer. That was welcomed by the players and has helped draw the crowds to NatWest T20 Blast – in bigger numbers then ever before.
“The change created some fresh challenges for counties alongside the new opportunities but the record advance sales show how well the game has responded – the counties deserve huge credit. The quality of the cricket has been very clear too, with further records set for runs scored and sixes hit – our thanks to the players for producing such entertaining games.
Blast Finals Day, in front of 24,426 people at Edgbaston on Saturday, will see Hampshire, Glamorgan, Nottinghamshire and Birmingham compete to the lift the trophy.
From 2020, the ECB is set to introduce a new, 38-game T20 tournament, featuring eight regional/city-based team. The NatWest Blast is planned to continue as a secondary competition for all 18 counties to contest.