Warwickshire will squeeze a home quarter-final into Edgbaston's packed schedule after talks with the ECB and have slashed ticket prices for Thursday's fixture against Hampshire.
Edgbaston is hosting the ongoing, rescheduled fifth Test between England and India
, which is due to finish on Tuesday, and will then stage the second T20I between the same teams on Saturday. It will then host a County Championship game later this month, the women's T20 competition at the Commonwealth Games, four Hundred matchdays (including three double-headers) and four Royal London Cup games before the end of August, putting huge demands on its groundstaff and testing the appetite for cricket in the Midlands.
The original schedule for the Blast's quarter-finals involved two games on Friday to avoid a clash in television slots with England's T20Is, but after talks with the ECB, Warwickshire have moved the game to Thursday night. The game will be streamed live online but not televised, with Sky Sports showing the first T20I instead.
Adult tickets are available for £10 in advance, with juniors either free or £1. "We've been working with ECB over the last few weeks to try and accommodate a home quarter-final at Edgbaston, despite the LV= Insurance Test Match and Vitality IT20 taking place in the same week," Alex Perkins, Warwickshire's sales and marketing director, said.
"We're delighted that we've been able to make this work and give our members and fans the opportunity to support the Bears in a big quarter-final at home. We hope members, fans and the local community will come out in force to make it a memorable occasion and we have reflected this ambition with a one-off pricing model in order to create another special Edgbaston atmosphere."
Surrey have also cut prices for their quarter-final against Yorkshire at the Kia Oval on Wednesday, with adult tickets £15 in advance and under-16s free, while Lancashire's start at £12 for adults and £1 for juniors. Somerset's home ground, Taunton, is the smallest quarter-final venue by a distance and tickets are on sale at the usual price.
The Bears' defeat to Lancashire on Sunday night did not affect their status as North Group winners but did spare Derbyshire's blushes by pushing them down into third, meaning they will play Somerset in Sunday's fourth quarter-final.
Derbyshire have only qualified for a home quarter-final once in the competition's previous 19 seasons and did not foresee that they would this year, having rescheduled a Michael Bublé concert at the County Ground to July 9. If Lancashire had lost on Sunday, Derbyshire would have been unable to use their home ground and were expected to cede home advantage altogether, leading Dominic Cork, their former captain and coach, to fume on Sky: "If Derbyshire miss out on a home quarter-final because of a concert, it's nonsense, absolute nonsense."
Surrey, Yorkshire and Lancashire are all bracing to be without several first-choice players due to England's T20I series. The ECB said that there may be some scope for players to be released from the squad at short notice but that the situation is "quite fluid" and decisions will be made on a "case-by-case" basis.
"It's always difficult but we've had that in the past and we know what's coming," Dane Vilas
, Lancashire's captain, said. "It's good for the guys that they get recognition for playing well and I've always said, if you play well in a good team, you're going to get selected which is fantastic and that's what we want. It's going to be a bit of a headache for us but we've got the guys who want to come in and play."
The Blast's semi-final draw is predetermined by group standings and has thrown up the possibility of a first-ever Finals Day Roses match, with the winner of Surrey vs Yorkshire drawn to play the winner of Lancashire vs Essex. In the other semi-final, the winner of Bears vs Hampshire will play the winner of Somerset vs Derbyshire.
July 6 (6.30pm) - Surrey vs Yorkshire, The Kia Oval
July 7 (6.30pm) - Bears vs Hampshire, Edgbaston
July 8 (6.30pm) - Lancashire vs Essex, Emirates Old Trafford
July 9 (7pm) - Somerset vs Derbyshire, Taunton
Winner of Surrey-Yorkshire vs winner of Lancashire-Essex
Winner of Bears-Hampshire vs winner of Somerset-Derbyshire
Semi-finals and final at Edgbaston on July 16
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98