All about T20 Cricket
Modern day cricket is known for intelligent bowling, superhuman fielding and outlandish shot making. Matches are more competitive and exciting than ever. This current healthy state of the game is widely attributed to the introduction of the Twenty20 (T20) cricket format.
The origin of T20 cricket
T20 cricket was first introduced in 2003, after the English and Wales cricket board (ECB) came up with the concept. The T20 idea came about in response to dwindling crowds, a decline in sponsorship opportunities and a decreased level of interest from the younger generation. The game of cricket was under pressure to bring about a change that would positively influence the game.
And what a change it was to become! The first official games played between English county teams in an inter-county competition were a success. A record audience attended the final played at Trent Bridge.
From 2003 onwards, the new format of the game spread across the domestic scene in all cricketing nations. International competition followed in 2005. Australia emerging as victors in the inaugural match played against New Zealand.
How does the game work?
T20 cricket is essentially a shortened version of the 50 over game. As the name suggests, T20 games last 20 overs per innings. Bowlers’ spells are now only four overs, and there are restrictions on the placement of fielders to encourage higher scoring.
This condensed version of the game has made for an increased focus on ways to score runs quicker, and conversely how bowlers have had to change their approach to keep the score down. The attacking and aggressive nature of the game has changed how players traditionally approached a game of cricket. Cricketers who have made a success of T20 cricket, are generally the ones who have been less risk averse.
The one major success of T20 cricket is its popularity. Within a short space of time, the new format was attracting fans in record numbers. The shorter, more exciting version of the game was a perfect recipe for introducing new fans to the sport. It also seemed to get jaded fans interested once again.
Since the introduction of T20 cricket in 2003, many tournaments have been added to the cricketing calendar. Australia’s Big Bash and the Indian Premier League (IPL) are the two largest competitions around. Cricketing superstars have managed to leverage playing in these such tournaments to increase their profiles. In India, where cricket is basically a religion, successful players in the IPL are treated as A-class celebrities. Many a player have used this platform as a swansong for their careers. Shane Warne is a prime example. Following his retirement from international cricket, he captained the Rajasthan Royals team to success in the inaugural tournament in 2008.
There are also many players who move between the various tournaments during the year. Cricketing megastars such as Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers have made lucrative careers out of this. As well as being integral players for their countries, they are some of the most sought-after cricketers on the international T20 circuit.
T20 World Cup
Since 2007 there has been a T20 Cricket World Cup. Initially occurring every two years, the current interval between tournaments is four years. Only the current defending champions, the West Indies have won the tournament more than once. Due to COVID-19 the 2020 edition of the tournament has moved to 2021. Teams will have to refocus and plan accordingly for the delay.
Current state of T20 Cricket
T20 cricket is the most popular and lucrative form of the game. Many purists may dislike it, but they cannot deny the positive impact it has made on the game in general. More people are watching cricket nowadays, and the earning potential for players is undoubtedly higher. Having the option to watch games that are both short and exciting, is ideal for the new fan trying to get into cricket.
While it may not have the prestige of Test or 50 over cricket, the T20 version of the game is here to stay. The way players have had to adapt to the shorter, more explosive cricket offering is noticeable in the general gameplay across formats.
If anything, Test and One Day cricket are both under pressure to reinvent themselves. While this is a work in progress, they will most likely enjoy the attention of some T20 converts who were never fans of cricket.
Love it or hate it, one cannot deny the entertainment value that T20 cricket offers. More cricket on TV and in the media can only be a good thing for the sport in general. With the increased exposure to cricket, one can only hope that the younger generation takes up an interest in the sport we love.
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