Twenty20 is here to stay

2007-09-25 14:47

Arthur Turner

From the moment India won the bowl-out against Pakistan in Durban one got the feeling that it was their destiny to lift the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship.

Their win at The Wanderers was their second global victory. Their first success was the Cricket World Cup in 1983 when they beat the West Indies at Lords.

India and Pakistan contesting the first ever Twenty20 final highlighted the unpredictability of 20-over cricket.

Both teams failed to qualify for the Super Eights stage in the 2007 World Cup and were missing key players for this tournament.

Also, India had only played one 20-over international before arriving in South Africa and have no domestic 20-over competition of their own.

The ICC will be delighted that the first ever Twenty20 final was contested between the two Asian giants. The ICC's business partners are Asian companies and this dream final would have maximised the television audience.

South Africa hosted yet another successful ICC global event within four years. The ICC can look back on this inaugural tournament and feel satisfied with the results, however, the length of the tournament needs to be addressed.

Attendances were average

The tournament, in sharp contrast to the 2007 Cricket World Cup, was too congested. The scheduling of the matches had no structure and the matches were too close too each other. The tournament was hard to follow as a television viewer or spectator.

This is clearly illustrated in the attendances, with the exception of the opening match and final at the Wanderers and the Indian matches at Kingsmead the attendances were average to poor.

The lesson the ICC needs to learn out of the World Cup and this tournament is that they need to ensure that all future global events are staged over the correct period to maximise and maintain the interest of the cricket world.

The ICC also needs to ensure that the cricket world and media correctly interpret that the Twenty20 World Championship is not a World Cup, but a tournament.

It is also important for the ICC to protect it's intellectual property the World Cup.

Too loose an arrangement

Twenty-over cricket is here to stay and how the ICC manages this new product is vital for the future of the game. Cricket is the only sport that has three different forms of the game. It is clear that the ICC can not afford cricket to fragment further.

The ICC has already legislated that no member country may play more than three 20-over "home" internationals per season. This is too loose an arrangement with no structure, for example, a country hosting an inbound tour could use their quota playing a three-match 20-over series.

The ICC should have legislated that each tour be allowed one 20-over international as a lead-up to an ODI series and that all future ODI series be limited to five internationals.

The next Twenty20 World Championship is scheduled to take place in England in 2009. It seems that the ICC intends to stage this tournament every two years. I agree with this strategy but I still would like to see 20-over cricket better structured in the future tours programme.

This approach will position all three forms of the game strategically.

There is no doubt if 20-over cricket is not controlled it can threaten the fabric of a sport that is already suffering badly from over exposure.

  • Arthur is a former cricket administrator.

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