Has T20 cricket had the intended effect on the public's interest?

Tags: t20, cricket

Published on: Mar 01, 2020

We are now flying down the road towards the T20 World Cup at the end of the year with all the international teams stepping up their preparations for the showpiece down under. Before you know it, the first ball will be bowled in October, probably by a spinner after the sounds of intense electronic music has just died down, and the tournament will be underway.

The T20 format is cricket’s answer to staying cool and relevant but has it achieved its intended result of spiking the public’s interest in the game? It has been some 15 years since the first-ever international T20 game was played between New Zealand and Australia in Auckland. A look at the scorecard from that game will show you that T20 cricket got off to an uncompetitive start as Australia trounced New Zealand by 44 runs.

A decade and a half on from that night in Auckland and this feels like a good time to look back on whether this format has been a success or not. The recent T20 international series between South Africa and England in mid-February which the Three Lions won, suggests that T20 is now at the stage where the ICC had eventually hoped it would be, back when they launched it in 2005. Every game went down to the last over and the stadiums were packed to the rafters. The pyrotechnic machines were going off at regular intervals and the dancers didn’t miss a step as they celebrated every ball that flew over the fence for six. Indeed, T20 cricket has become some sight.

But the truth is that it has taken an extraordinary amount of time for T20 cricket to become competitive and the matches where the results are close, are more the exception than the rule. Often it is go big or go home in T20 with teams going bust early on in their pursuit of chasing down a big score. This obviously doesn’t do much for the big crowd that has assembled and their interest in cricket. There are few experiences more drab in cricket than seeing a team bowled out in 12 overs for 89 runs whilst chasing 227. And this, it has to be said, has been T20’s reality for most of its history.

When you look back, T20 was brought in to level the playing fields between the haves and have-nots in world cricket, given that it focuses more on the individual than a team, basically, one man can win a game on his own. This doesn’t add up though: if you were to look at the latest cricket betting for the T20 World Cup, you'd see that a team like Namibia are at 1500/1 to win the event. Really, it still looks as lopsided as ever.

That said, there currently seems to be a switch towards more competitive finishes happening between the bigger teams and the interest in the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia is the greatest there has ever been in any T20 event.

At the end of the day, it comes down to whether you feel that T20 cricket is finally beginning to bear the fruit it planted so many years ago or whether the format is going through a purple

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