Winners and losers - the story of the Blast group stages

Taunton fans gather for autographs Getty Images

Five weeks ago, Somerset left Bristol having suffered a second defeat in their opening three Blast games. Their game against Kent had struggled for ticket sales - prices had gone up over the winter, justified in part by the need to fund the signings of overseas players, and yet they had signed only one. Their captain Lewis Gregory was struggling for form, and amid rumours of an impending move to Middlesex and some disgruntled fans were calling for him to be left out of the side altogether.

Now, all of that seems a world away. Their overseas players Corey Anderson (460 runs at a strike-rate of 173.58) and Jerome Taylor (17 wickets) have been talismen; after signing a new-three year deal, Gregory's brutal death hitting is the talk of Taunton, not to mention his 15 wickets and impressive captaincy.

The phone lines simply couldn't cope with demand on Saturday morning, with fans desperate for a ticket to see the South Group's best side in Sunday's quarter-final against Nottinghamshire.

It just goes to show, things change very quickly in the world of T20.

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Some eyes rolled when Durham announced the signing of veteran legspinner Imran Tahir on the eve of this tournament. At 39, Tahir was adding a seventh county to his extensive collection, and there were suspicions that he might struggle to rouse a side that were poor in the Royal London One Day Cup, struggling in the Championship, and still reeling from the horrors of the ECB's sanctions in the winter of 2016-17.

Tahir soon put paid to any doubts. He took 15 wickets to go alongside the best economy rate in the Blast, as Durham blew any pre-tournament predictions out of the water by surging towards the top of the North Group.

Fellow overseas pro Tom Latham was the batting lynchpin, while Nathan Rimmington was the star seamer, but local youngsters James Weighell, Liam Trevaskis and Graham Clark have all impressed too. While Tahir will miss the quarter-finals, his presence has helped reinvigorate Durham and turn them into unlikely contenders.

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Northants' T20 campaign was perhaps best summed up by seamer Gareth Wade's debut in Friday night's dead rubber against Leicestershire. Wade's only legitimate delivery was hit for four, and he was removed from the attack after bowling two beamers. His unenviable figures were 0.1-0-9-0 and, suffice to say, his current career economy rate of 54 is the highest in T20 history.

Wade, a 27-year-old seamer plucked from the Minor Counties, was impressive in his response: "Not quite what I had in mind for my T20 debut but s**it happens, it's how I come back from it," he tweeted. A good start in their ongoing Championship game against Middlesex suggests Wade's words have rung true.

Friday's win was only their second of a horror tournament that never got going for them. Personnel changes over the winter seem inevitable.

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The abiding memory of Surrey's Blast season should have been Jason Roy and Aaron Finch's blistering stand of 194 in just 13.5 overs against Middlesex; it was an unbelievable display of ball-striking by two of the competition's best.

Finch scored 589 runs (the most in the tournament) at an average of 147.25 (the highest in the tournament), with 31 sixes (the joint-most in the tournament) and a strike-rate of 182.35 (the highest among those with 300+ runs). In a supposedly unpredictable game, his consistency was remarkable.

But Surrey's reliance on Finch cost them. They won seven of the nine games he played, and lost four of their five without him: a lack of batting depth proved to be their nadir.

Instead of that partnership at the Oval, it was Roy who provided the moment that encapsulated their season. Bowled without scoring in Wednesday's win against Hampshire, Roy picked up a bizarre injury: he threw his bat at the dressing room floor in anger, only for it to bounce up and hit him in the face.

The blow ruled him out of Friday's game in Cardiff and the ongoing Championship game against Lancashire, in which Surrey hope to put a disappointing Blast campaign behind them with a win. After all, a first Championship pennant since 2002 is within touching distance: now that would be better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

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Confidence was bouyant at Essex after their Championship triumph last season and, as the highly-regarded Chris Silverwood left to become England's bowling coach, the signing of Matt Coles was presented as the signing that would enable his successor, Anthony McGrath, to extend their advance into the limited-overs formats.

Coles' roistering reputation suggested from the outset that his signing was a gamble and it has turned out none too well. He has played a single Championship game, had a mediocre Royal London Cup campaign and in the Blast his returns were a disappointment - five wickets in eight matches as he disappeared at 11.52 an over. Once regarded as an England prospect, he now looks unlikely ever to hear such heady predictions again.

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When Afghanistan summoned Rashid Khan to Ireland a day earlier than Sussex had hoped, so ruling him out of the final group game against Middlesex at Hove, a shudder of unease must have been hard to disguise.

As it was, Will Beer, in only his third match of the season, filled in admirably alongside the ever-reliable Danny Briggs. Beer may do so again in the quarter-final against Durham on Friday, although if Sussex reach finals day they will doubtless optimistically lobby the Afghanistan board to allow Rashid to squeeze in a game or two ahead of the Asia Cup which begins two days later.

Rashid's Blast involvement pretty much completed the set of outstanding T20 records around the globe; only the Pakistan Super League remains outstanding. His strike rate in the Blast - one wickets every 13 balls - was his best return yet, although his average of 14.35 was second to his average of 13.83 in the Big Bash.

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Kent's imposing batting line-up has already left them in the promotion places in Division Two and taken them to a Royal London Cup final. Lancashire will face them in the Blast quarter-final at Canterbury on Thursday with a certain amount of trepidation.

Two of the finest overseas signings of the summer - the New Zealand fast-bowling pair of Matt Henry and Adam Milne - have also helped. Henry's 49 wickets at 13.41 were one of the features of the first phase of the Championship and Milne matched those standards in the Blast.

Twelve wickets with an economy rate of 7.06 doesn't sound particularly outstanding, but many of his overs have come at the death and that death-overs economy rate of 7.44 is up there with Wahab Riaz, Jofra Archer, and Harry Gurney, the latter who was too good for Yorkshire in the winner-takes-all-tie.