I have been converted!!! When Twenty20 (T20) arrived on the cricketing scene, I was very quick to dismiss it as wham-bam cricket, a doom for bowlers, etc. I enjoyed watching the formats of the game already existing before T20 arrived – One-Day Cricket and Test Cricket. However, after a couple of IPL tournaments and T20 World Cups, I now know that I was wrong to judge T20 hastily and harshly and I now wholeheartedly embrace this format of the game. Here are the reasons why I think T20 is a wonderful format and is here to stay:

  • High-Octane Cricket: Lots of Boundaries and Sixes, stumps being uprooted more often, acrobatic fielding, rocking music during breaks, close finishes/edge-of-the-seat thrillers.
  • Time Saver: An entire T20 match lasts around 3 hours. The shorter the match, the more involved the audience will be. Also, you’ll still have a huge chunk of the day remaining to do whatever you want after being entertained by a T20 match.
  • Innovation: Would you have heard of deliveries like the “slow bouncer” and shots like the “Dilscoop” had it not been for T20 Cricket? Certainly No! T20 has made cricketers think on their feet out there in the middle –  the Dilscoop introduced by Dilshan (scooping the ball backward over the heads of the batsman and wicketkeeper) is an example of such innovation. The slow bouncer and slow full toss used by Lasith Malinga (one of the best proponents of these deliveries), Jerome Taylor and a few others is an example of excellent innovation with the ball. Well, T20 is set to get all cricket coaching manuals updated.
  • Challenge: In the T20 format, every ball matters. For every ball bowled, the bowler must try something clever to get the batsman’s wicket (no more bowling without the pressure of being hit for a boundary), the batsman must make contact with the ball to ensure maximum runs are scored (no more shouldering arms or being defensive with deliberate padding), the fielders must be always switched-on and do everything possible save every run (most matches are too close to afford even an extra run). T20 offers both a mental and physical challenge to cricketers.
  • Packed Stadiums: Any sport’s survival depends on its popularity among the masses. T20 has packed stadiums like never before. T20 is attracting people who once upon a time found cricket boring. T20 is also proving to be a good family entertainer (you can get the family out for just 3 hours of entertainment, can’t you?). Packed Stadiums lead to increased revenue (ticket sales and advertising) and this makes T20 a very attractive business model for the Cricket Boards (just hope the Boards use the money wisely to develop the game around the world).

Coming back to my initial concern I had regarding T20, the ICC T20 World Cup 2009 was dominated by great bowling and proved that bowlers also have a major role and can significantly impact the result of a T20 match (not just batsman-dominated as I expected). However, perhaps, the only cricketing domain which could be adversely impacted by T20 is “batting” for the very reasons cricket purists describe T20 as a lottery or vulgar. I believe that the concern here is regarding technical batting. Will the coming generations of batsmen focus on learning the big slog and heave shots rather than straight drives, square cuts, leg glances and other technical shots? Only time will tell. That’s why I believe Test Cricket should stay on forever as it’s the purist’s game and a joy to watch in its own right. But, Test Cricket’s survival depends on the number of fans who are cricket purists and enjoy this traditional contest between bat and ball. If this number dwindles with the advent of T20, then Test Cricket could be in danger. Personally, I wish Test Cricket stays on forever as I enjoy the gruelling battles in Test cricket. However, I see absolutely no place whatsoever for the One-Day format. I believe that Test Cricket and T20 should henceforth be made the standard formats of Cricket.

Congratulations to Pakistan for becoming the unlikely, but thoroughly deserving T20 World Champions at Lords yesterday!

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