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Why Is T20 Cricket So Popular ?

Updated on March 20, 2017
Al Greenbaum profile image

Al was a bit disconcerted by the arrival of T20 cricket some years ago but has now become a big fan.

The Adelaide Oval during a T20 game.
The Adelaide Oval during a T20 game. | Source

Top Ten Six Hitters In T20 Cricket

Players
Matches
Sixes
Chris Gayle (WI)
286
732
Kieron Pollard (WI)
254
448
Brendan McCullum (NZ)
267
342
Dwayne Smith (WI)
284
321
David Warner (AUS)
222
288
Shane Watson (AUS)
222
286
Rohit Sharma (IND)
236
254
Suresh Raina (IND)
245
252
Ross Taylor (NZ)
224
252
Ryan ten Doeschate (NL)
285
248

It seems like cricket has been facing a crisis for the last 50 years. Lack of cash in some area of the game has plagued it for years. In the early 60’s, one day or limited-overs- cricket was brought in to try and bring people to the ground who may be put off by the slow tempo of matches. It worked for a while but then people were put off by the expansion of that form of the game. They felt that there was too much of it and that it was too predictable. The rules were tinkered with and restrictions were made on fielding sides. It worked for a while and then spectators felt that things had become stale and were looking for something more compelling.

In 2003, the first domestic T20 competition was born in England. It proved to be an immediate success. Soon other cricket playing nations were following suit and in 2007, the first T20 World Cup was held in South Africa.

Since it started, T20 has been an unqualified success. Crowds flock to stadiums to watch the excitement and tension of the star-studded games.

An interesting development of T20 has been the development of the “T20 specialist” who plies his trade all over the world in the multitude of competitions that have sprung up. Some players spend their time solely playing this form of cricket. With its short duration, maximum 40 overs, it has also extended the careers of some who may not be fit enough for a full season of cricket in all its forms but can manage approximately a month at a time playing constant T20.

But crowds will always come to watch players who can deliver. Attendances at Australia’s Big Bash League in the 2016/17 season have reached two million. Many millions more have watched the game on the Network 10 channel. Around the world, the story is the same. People love T20 cricket. What makes it so popular?

Time

If you want to watch a test match or a one day game, you are committed to a day of cricket-watching. To some, that may not be a problem but for others, it could mean they are going to have to rely on TV highlights to follow the game. In T20 cricket, you can leave work and be in time for the start of the game. At about 3 hours in duration, you are going to be back home at a reasonable time ready for work the next day.

Duration

At about 3 hours, T20 is an attractive time frame. Although more than the time to watch a rugby or football match, it still slots into a convenient time slot for leisure activities, especially if the match is during the mid-week.

Cost

Ticket prices for a test match in London, UK, 2017, go from 55 pounds to an incredible 100. For T20 games, prices can be as low as 29 pounds. In the BBL, the cost of a ticket is less than 12 pounds.

T20 Cricket in Perth

Skills On Display

When you go to a T20 game you see a tremendous array of skills on display and the entertainment is non-stop. In a test match people argue that for long periods of time not much seems to be happening. In T20 cricket, the action is non-stop.

You see some of the most spectacular cricket imaginable. Fielders sprinting full-pelt along the boundary edge, diving in the air and taking a catch with one hand just before the ball goes over the rope.

Batsmen hitting the ball so far that it not only goes over the boundary but out of the ground. This can happen regularly in a match. During the 2016/17 BBL season, Brisbane Heat’s, Chris Lynne, cleared the fence 11 times during one innings.

Bowlers with guile and confidence, who having been whacked to the boundary, unleash a cunning slower ball that deceives the batsman and crashes into his stumps.

Drama

Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of T20 is how the emphasis can shift from one team to another in just a few deliveries.

A side chasing a run rate of nine per over can find themselves much better off when a few balls have been struck to the boundary. Alternatively, a team cruising to victory can have their progress checked by losing a few quick wickets.

Don’t forget the fielding either; two thrilling catches can set an opposing team right back.

Spectacle

A T20 match can be a sight for the eyes. The green of the cricket field is intensified by the powerful floodlights that ring the ground, contrasted by the pinks, blues, lavenders, oranges and more that are worn by the opposing teams

Atmosphere

In a T20 game you are bound to find yourself in a ground that is full or close to it. There will be gasps, cheers, applause, jokes, singing and a lot of fun. Nobody is going to be bored. Mascots are at all games and children are made to feel very welcome.

The game goes at a quick pace. In the BBL, a side must bowl its overs in 80 minutes or else they will face penalties. For example, their captain could be suspended for two matches, as happened to Brendon McCullum, captain of Brisbane Heat.

Spectators Come First

Only very bad weather at a T20 match leads to it being cancelled or curtailed. Umpires try to keep the players on the field if they can. They usually play on through rain. As the grounds are fitted with at least four floodlights, they never go off for bad light. Some spectators have criticized cricket in the past for the number of reasons the match can be paused or stopped due to weather conditions. That criticism cannot be levelled at T20.

T20 matches thrive on attacking cricket.
T20 matches thrive on attacking cricket.

World T20 Ratings. (March 8th 2017)

Matches
Points
New Zealand
127
India
124
South Africa
117
West Indies
116
England
114

Conclusion

T20 is an exciting form of cricket. There are non-stop thrills and spills and it has captured the imagination of the paying public. I would estimate that the crowd at a game would compromise of few people who would go to watch a test match or a county championship game.

It has brought out some innovations with very heavy bats so that boundary hits are easier as well as the invention of new shots, such as “the ramp”, to help a batsman pierce a well-set field.

For many years, cricket was labelled as a bit stuffy. Managed by people who were out of touch with the game and with their feet plainly stuck in the past, there seemed no future. T20 is an example of the sport being made more attractive to the wider public. But it is only a form of cricket it is not the essence of the game.

The best example of cricket being played in its most enduring way was the 2005 Ashes series when every match was a theatrical event, played over five days to the highest standard of skill. What makes cricket such a spectacle is the ebb and flow from slow, to intense, to fireworks. The bowler searching for the breakthrough, the batsman seeking to avoid defeat, the fielder trying to keep the new batsman on strike with his nimble-footedness. To some extent this can be found in T20 also but in bursts. In regular cricket the odds seem balanced between batsman and bowler. In the shortest form of the game, the batsman always has the advantage.

But I think T20 cricket is here to stay. To the purist, it is a travesty of cricket – inelegant, aesthetically unpleasing. But it is a crowd puller and it is bank-rolling the more traditional forms of the game.

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