Twenty20: The Game
A view of the Twenty20 match between England and Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl.
Twenty20 is a new and exciting format of cricket with a slightly different set of rules as opposed to conventional Test or One Day cricket. The rules of Twenty20 are essentially a culmination of various unorthodox cricketing rules that a child growing up in the streets and parks of the cricketing world would be familiar with. It is the shortest version of the game with an entire match lasting for exactly 3hrs with each innings comprising of 20 overs only and hence the name. This gives each side an allotted 75mins to bat or bowl. However exceeding the time limit or wasting time could result in penalty depending upon the umpire’s discretion.
Twenty20 originated in England and was the brainchild of the England and Wales Cricket Board. The first official Twenty20 matches were played between the English county sides in addition to their domestic schedule and thus the first ever Twenty20 Cup was born in the summer of 2003. The winners that year were the Surrey Lions with the Warwickshire Bears coming in as runners up. The event was a grand success and drew in a record number of crowds. Since then Twenty20 has gained in popularity in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies. The format hasn’t quite caught on in India, partly due to the reluctance of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India). However, India will be taking part in the first ever inaugural Twenty20 World Championships slated to be held in the month of September this year in South Africa.
Typically a Twenty20 game is fast and intense with heavy hitting from the batting side. Some people might even call it a pinch-hitter’s game as the boundaries are usually shorter and hence the game is riddled with 4’s and 6’s. The Twenty20 format was designed to provide a more entertaining version of the game so that cricket could be played in a much more relaxed and fun atmosphere and at the same time be intense and fast moving. On the flipside many have criticized Twenty20 for being too frivolous and ‘masala’ cricket and have also accused it of making a mockery of a serious professional game. They fear that Twenty20 culture might upset traditional formats of the game, especially Test cricket, which is already experiencing a huge slide in terms of interest.
However, promoters of Twenty20 cricket argue that the format seeks to create a niche for itself rather than replace Test or One Day cricket. They assert that through Twenty20 interest in cricket will increase and possibly help revive interest in traditional formats such as Test cricket.
At the end of the day one this is for certain and that is Twenty20 cricket is immensely popular with the public. Wherever the format has been tried it has been a huge success with record number of crowds coming in to see the game. To spice up the game even further a Twenty20 game typically has all kinds of competitions and off field entertainment for the audiences. In some Twenty20 tournaments they have had loud music, cheering squads and even live performances by various pop stars. There is no doubt that Twenty20 seeks to entertain and the cricket fan seems to be lapping it all up.
Call it ‘masala’ cricket or glorified ‘gulli’ cricket; Twenty20 is definitely a game for the future.