Twenty20 – Perfect for the future or a cricket cannibal?

June 5, 2009

In an ideal world Twenty20, cricket’s newest and shortest format, should be hailed as the perfect way forward for a game still played by barely 10 teams at the highest level.

The World Twenty20 which begins in England on Friday is expected to draw huge crowds and television audiences, pointing to the galloping popularity of the three-hour game, the sporting equivalent of a Hollywood action flick rather than the Bollywood drama of a five-day test.

Twenty20 is drawing new and younger audiences, at stadiums and in living rooms in front of TV sets. Last year, it triggered the Indian Premier League (IPL), the multi-million dollar franchise event with players from many countries which resembles other major professional sports like soccer and NBA.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) says it is pleased to own three versions, the 50-over game being the other, but betrays nervousness that Twenty20 could gobble up the other two in the near future.

The ICC has said it wants Twenty20 to be played more at the domestic level. Its CEO Haroon Lorgat said last week it would keep a tight leash on T20 on the international stage.

Some fret that upcoming players could soon lose the skill and temperament essential to even survive five-day tests.

So should fans laud Twenty20 or worry about what cricket could lose in the long term?

Many other games such as tennis, table tennis and volleyball have all benefited after being tweaked for the sake of TV, gaining more exposure and endorsements.

Twenty20 also appears the best bet for cricket to reach America. The ICC has even asked U.S. cricket officials to start a tournament on the lines of IPL to counter an unauthorised American Premier League planned to launch soon.

The short game is throwing up many new players, quashing the initial argument that unless one had the skill honed in the longer version, the player may not survive the latest slam-bang format.

Will Twenty20 change the world cricketing order in the near future? Will test and one-day cricket bow to it? It’s unlclear how long will we have to wait for a definitive answer.

PHOTO: England’s Ravi Bopara (R) and West Indies’ Denesh Ramdin during the ICC World Twenty20 warm-up at Lord’s in London June 3, 2009. REUTERS/Philip Brown


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My view is that there are too many lovers of test cricket still around for the extended version of the game to just fade away. Sadly it may happen well into the future.

As for ODIs, for me this world cup will be interesting. If it’s a roaring success then there may be calls to ditch 50 over cricket, which didn’t win many fans during the last world cup in 2007.

I’m no huge fan of twenty20, especially as when attending a match it seems no more than seven people are actually watching. The rest are swilling beer, eyeing up the dancing girls or munching on candy floss or whatever else there is to do at these games. Probably won’t be long until there’s a bloody roller-coaster parked outside. ‘Get great views of the cricket from atop Devil’s Peak!’ some bafoon in fancy dress will be shouting…

I don’t think there’s anyting better than an appreciative, attentive and knowledgable audience. So bring on the Ashes and Pakistan’s tour of Sri Lanka from June-August.

Posted by Tom Pilcher | Report as abusive

I’ve been lucky enough to see both my fair share of five-dayers at Lords and the first ever IPL match to have been played in Mumbai.
For me, it’s not a question of either/or. The IPL or other short forms of the game don’t spell the death of traditional cricket. Compared to the bitter squabbles that threaten to tear F1 apart, there has arguably never been a better time to be a cricket fan.
For those who want to take their picnic hampers filled with wine and sandwiches to laze around at Lords, they can, and still be treated to some phenomenal test cricket. Who will forget the 2005 Ashes in a hurry, to take just one example?
But, in glorious addition to the calendar, we get the 20-20 bonanzas like the IPL complete with filmstars, cheerleaders and sixes aplenty (or should I say DLF maximums?).
As for the art of the test being lost on new players — I don’t think so. They’re professionals, they’ll cope.

Posted by Seething Lane | Report as abusive

Why not take this T20 further. American football has got an offensive team and a defensive team. Normally, offensive player do not play defense. Defensive player do not play offence. Cricket should also follow this and have a batting team (11 batsmen) and a bowling team (10 bowlers and a wicket keeper). This way each team can bring on their best batsman all the way to the last wicket. While training, they can concentrate only on thier batting skills. Each team can bring on their best 10 bowlers. While training, they can concentrate only on bowling and fielding. Wouldn’t that be thrilling.

Posted by Swami Govindarajan | Report as abusive

@Swami – I’m sorry but that’s a terrible idea.

Posted by Kathleen Washington | Report as abusive