Seven centrally-contracted England players have been released from a pre-Ashes training camp and will be available for the Charlotte Edwards Cup Finals Day tomorrow (Saturday, June 10).
As a result, Thunder will have Sophie Ecclestone and Emma Lamb available for their semi-final against Southern Vipers, who will welcome the return of trio Charlie Dean, Freya Kemp, and Danni Wyatt.
The Blaze await the winners in the final and will be strengthened by the return of Sarah Glenn and Tammy Beaumont.
However, there will still be some notable absentees. Allrounder Nat Sciver-Brunt, along with seamers Kate Cross and Lauren Bell are having their workloads managed before the series against Australia gets underway with a Test match at Trent Bridge on Thursday, June 22.
Finals Day is taking place at New Road, the home of Worcestershire CCC, with the semi-final starting at 12pm before the winner is determined in the final, which starts at 4pm.
Thunder booked their place in Worcester in dramatic fashion, picking up the bonus point win they needed to qualify in their final group match against Northern Diamonds, who also needed a win to qualify.
An emphatic all-round team performance from Thunder saw Diamonds bowled out for 96, before reaching the target at a run-rate 1.25 more than that of their opponents to pick up the bonus point needed to move above the side into third.
The returning Lamb has been a key figure in their campaign to date, leading their run-scoring charts with 196 having played just five of their seven games. Ecclestone, who is currently ranked the number one T20I bowler in the world, has only made three appearances so far this season, taking five wickets.
Thunder face a stern test in the semi-final in the form of a Southern Vipers side who will be making their third consecutive Charlotte Edwards Cup Final Day appearance. The side, coincidentially led by the legendary Charlotte Edwards, have experienced varying levels of success at this stage in the competition.
At this stage in 2021, the team ended up on the losing side against Northern Diamonds in the semi-final, but head to Worcester this year as defending champions, overcoming Central Sparks to lift the trophy.
The return of their England stars will see Wyatt slotting in at the top of the order, and Dean offering an international-standard all-round option. Kemp is still recovering from a stress fracture in her back, meaning the bowler is likely to play as a specialist batter.
The successful semi-finalists will certainly be second-favourites in the final, with The Blaze the only unbeaten side in English professional cricket. Their record of seven wins from seven Charlotte Edwards Cup matches includes four bonus-point victories, and have done so without their England stars for the most part.
As a result, a full-strength Blaze side with Tammy Beaumont opening the batting and Sarah Glenn offering her economical spin in the middle-overs is a daunting prospect for either Thunder or the Vipers. Beaumont has 187 runs at an average of 46.75 from her five matches, with Glenn taking five wickets whilst conceding fewer than five runs per over in her four appearances to date.