Notts Outlaws begin their T20 Vitality Blast campaign this week when they face defending champions Worcestershire at Trent Bridge.
This will be the 17th year of the domestic short-form tournament and Notts have consistently been to the fore in the group stage, particularly over the last decade.
In eight of the last nine seasons they have advanced to the knock-out phase, reaching Finals Day three times and winning the event once.
Last season the Outlaws became only the second side to record 100 wins in the domestic competition, reaching the landmark a week after Lancashire.
Alongside Derbyshire, Worcestershire had been one of only two sides not to make a Finals Day up until last year.
They topped the North Group and defeated Gloucestershire and Lancashire before beating Sussex in the showpiece final.
The defence of their crown begins with the clash against 2017 champions Notts at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
Head To Head
Notts and Worcestershire will be meeting for the 15th time in domestic T20 cricket and the Outlaws have bossed the overall head-to-head count.
There have been nine Notts victories and four losses, with one abandonment.
Worcestershire have shown themselves as dangerous travellers though, winning all of their 4 victories in Nottingham, with recent triumphs here in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.
Notts have won three home meetings and been victorious six times at New Road.
Highest Team Total | Notts: 195-5 (Trent Bridge 2017), Worcs: 208-8 (Trent Bridge 2017).
Highest Individual Score | Notts: 80* MH Wessels (Trent Bridge 2016), Worcs: 102* CJ Ferguson (Trent Bridge 2018).
Best Bowling | Notts: 3-12 SJ Mullaney (New Road 2010), Worcs: 5-24 A Hepburn (New Road 2017).
Played For Them Both
Three members of this year’s Notts Outlaws squad have spent varying times on the Worcestershire staff.
One was with them for almost a decade, one for a nine-week campaign and one for an even shorter stint.
Joe Clarke began his career playing in the various age groups for his native Shropshire, before making his Worcestershire second team debut in 2013 and graduating into the first team two years later.
He has played T20 cricket for England Lions, and brought down the curtain on his time with the Pears by helping them to the domestic crown on Finals Day last year.
One of his teammates that day was Luke Wood, signed on loan from Notts just to cover the span of T20 games last season.
He played 14 times, collecting eight wickets and a winner’s medal.
Alex Hales barely had time to get to know his new Worcestershire colleagues when he went to join them on loan in 2015.
He played in one county championship match, away at Glamorgan, scoring 15 and 63.
Returning to Trent Bridge for this game will be Riki Wessels, who ended his eight-year association with Notts with a move to New Road in the winter.
The aggressive top-order batsman played in exactly 100 T20 matches for Notts and scored their maiden century in the competition, a boundary-laden innings of 110 against Derbyshire in 2017.
He was also a member of the successful 2017 side that won the competition.
Rapids in Brief
Titles: 1 (2018)
Finals Days: 1
Coach: Alex Gidman – Part of the successful Gloucestershire one-day side of the 2000s. In charge of Vitality Blast-winning side last summer in partnership with Alan Richardson.
Captain: Moeen Ali – The England all-rounder led the Rapids to glory at Edgbaston last September with two fine displays on Finals Day. Brett D’Oliveira is the official white-ball vice-captain in his absence.
Overseas signings: Martin Guptill (New Zealand - available for 11 of the Blast group games plus any quarter-final or Finals Day if Worcestershire qualify).
The Narrative: After losing several quarter-finals, the confidence gained from the 2018 final win over Sussex was massive and there is a belief in the squad that they can make a strong defence of their title after being one of the leading sides in all white-ball cricket in recent seasons.
Star Man: Pat Brown - He was the leading wicket-taker in the competition last summer with 31 victims and only injuries prevented him from being picked up by various franchises during the winter. Is now back fit and looking to repeat last year’s heroics.
Mr Consistency: Ben Cox - Time and time again the wicketkeeper-batsman has been the player for the big occasion as demonstrated with his two man-of-the-match awards on 2018 Finals Day but also chips in with crucial contributions on a regular basis.
Under the radar: Brett D’Oliveira - His leg-spin bowling, ability to score quickfire runs and brilliant fielding makes him an invaluable member of the side alongside big names like Martin Guptill, Riki Wessels, Callum Ferguson and Ross Whiteley.
Killer stat: Martin Guptill scored the second fastest ever domestic T20 century last summer against Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Wantage Road off 35 balls.
A Notts Outlaws squad brimming with international talent will commence their T20 Vitality Blast campaign against Worcestershire Rapids at Trent Bridge on Thursday 18 July, with adult tickets priced at £10. Secure your seats…