Twenty20: Worth the hype?

2007-08-30 10:33

Arthur Turner

South Africa will host the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship from September 11-24.

The awarding of this first ever global event to South Africa is justice in itself as 20-over cricket has its roots in Africa.

The 20-over format was born out of the Discovery Knockout Challenge that was played between Western Province, the Titans and the Dolphins.

Eastern Province and the Highveld Strikers also participated in the tournament as the fourth team.

The first tournament was played at Kingsmead in 1999 and the three matches were played over 30 overs per innings.

Newlands hosted the second tournament in 2001 and the three matches were reduced to 25 overs a side.

The first 20 over match took place at SuperSport Park in December 2002 in the third Discovery Knockout Challenge.

England were the first to implement a domestic competition in 2003 followed by South Africa who implemented the Pro20 Series in April 2004 with the birth of franchise cricket.

The 20 over game at domestic level has been universally successful with games being sold out for the first time since the late 1980s and early '90s.

Profile and finances

Cricketers are now playing in front of capacity crowds in this form of the game, something which doesn't happen in the other forms of domestic cricket.

Twenty over cricket has thrown the domestic game a lifeline with regards to profile and finances.

On the contrary the current international 20-over game has no structure and is played on a loose basis.

Only 16 internationals have been played to date.

With the success of the 20-over game at domestic level, the lack of structure at international level and the already congested international future tours programme, is there a place for it at the highest level?

Should it not be left as a domestic game?

International cricket has stripped the domestic game of all its assets and reduced it to a development programme for international cricket.

This strategic move would ensure the profile and commercial viability of domestic cricket around the world.

Test cricket has been under pressure from ODIs for many years with the exceptions of the Ashes series.

Strong product

I think a well structured 20-over international product will further corrode Test cricket possibly to the brink of extinction.

ODI cricket is a strong product and is well supported universally.

However, this could change in the future if 20-over cricket becomes better structured internationally.

It makes no sense for the ICC to develop a product in direct competition to its highly successful ODI product and Cricket World Cup.

The ICC's scheduling of its global events I believe also leaves much to be desired.

At the end of the Twenty20 World Championships they would have staged three global events in the space of a year; the Champions Trophy in September/August 2006 in India, the Cricket World Cup in March/April 2007 in the Caribbean and now the Twenty20 World Championships in September 2007 in South Africa.

Would world cricket not be better served by staging the World Cup every four years as currently exists, scheduling the Champions Trophy in between World Cups and a year after the World Cup stage the Twenty20 World Championship?

With the current scheduling, these events are too concentrated resulting in over exposure.

The timing for the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa is poor to say the least.

Weather at its best

Cape Town and Durban are high risk areas with regards seasonal rain and Johannesburg weather can be cold this time of year.

Why not schedule the event for March/April like what happened with the 2003 World Cup when our weather is at its best?

Cricket is a game that is totally dependent on good weather. Why schedule this event in a high risk period?

Also, the event clashes with the Rugby World Cup in France and this would have been avoided if the event was scheduled in March/April.

Given good weather, the Twenty20 World Championship will be a success but only the future will determine if there is a role for this format of the game in an already congested international programme and what damage it will ultimately cause to ODI and Test cricket.

I am of the opinion that the ICC has not applied its mind to what the long term impact 20-over cricket will have on the future international game and the scheduling of their global events.

  • Former cricket administrator Arthur Turner will be writing exclusively for News24 and 24.com sport for the duration of the Twenty20 World Championship.
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