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Money spinner sideshow: the rise and rise of T20 cricket | Cricket News

SYDNEY: In just 20 years, Twenty20 cricket has gone from a light-hearted sideshow to a cash grab, central to the global sports calendar.
With the eighth World Cup T20 starting in Australia on Sunday, AFP Sport looks at the rise and rise of the game’s popular format.
The end of the Benson and Hedges Cup one-day competition in 2002, due to a ban on tobacco advertising, left a gap in the domestic calendar of English cricket.
Stuart Robertson, the marketing manager of the England and Wales Cricket Board, suggested a 20 overs per side event, a format already familiar in amateur and junior cricket.
The goal was to attract a younger audience who might not have the time to engage with longer formats.

The first official Twenty20 county matches took place in 2003 and were an instant success in terms of attracting crowds.
More than 27,000 showed up to watch Middlesex play against Surrey at Lord’s, the largest attendance for a “home of cricket” county match outside of a one-day final since 1953.
That success was noted elsewhere, with the frenetic pace and dynamic batting of batsmen proving popular with spectators around the world.
Yet there was still a sense that this was not “real cricket”.

The first international T20 match between New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park, Auckland, in 2005, saw both teams dressed in retro 80s kits, with New Zealand decked out in an exact replica of their “Beige Brigade” colors from that time.
Some players even wore fake beards and mustaches in honor of styles of the era.
“I think it’s hard to play seriously,” said Australian man of the match Ricky Ponting.
But the growing popularity of the format was noticed by the International Cricket Council and led to the inaugural 2007 Men’s T20 World Cup in South Africa. India defeated arch-rival Pakistan in a thrilling final.

It has become so popular that there are now T20 games on most international tours and fears among traditionalists that the shortest format is thriving at the expense of Test cricket.
Just as India’s victory in the one-day FIFA World Cup in 1983 changed the attitude of cricket’s most populous country to the limited-player game, so did 2007’s title success there was equally transformative.
Looking to capitalize on that success and concerned about the Indian Cricket League, a private T20 event, the Board of Control for Cricket in India launched the Indian Premier League in 2008.
Not only did it effectively end the ICL, the new six-week tournament changed the global environment of cricket.

The city’s IPL, where teams were funded by wealthy private owners and with squads based on player auctions, meant that leading cricketers could earn huge sums of money in a short space of time.
Traditionally, the path to a lucrative career has been to become an established international in multi-day test cricket and take advantage of the sponsorship deals that followed.
Now, however, there was a different route, with the establishment of other competitions, such as Big Bash in Australia and Blast in England, creating a global T20 circuit.
The concept has only mushroomed, with the Caribbean, Pakistan and Bangladesh all in action now.

The IPL has changed the game in such a way that the ICC has effectively blocked international men’s matches during the usual April to May pre-tournament period to ensure top-class cricketers remain available.
Now there is an uneasy coexistence between the formats, with the ICC creating the World Test Championship in an effort to bolster the five-day game.
Some key players, such as India’s Virat Kohli, have recently stated that test cricket would always be “the absolute pinnacle of the game”.
“I will give everything to test cricket for the time I play, I can assure you,” he said, but how long his attitude to cricket will last remains to be seen.
As a sign of the times, new silver-plated T20 competitions are scheduled for South Africa, the United States and the United Arab Emirates from 2023, which will entice players even more with big-money offers.



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