Is Twenty20 a plague or panacea?
Date: December 7, 2012 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
The very mention of it solicits varied responses.
Traditionalists tend to ignore it, while the younger generations and those who have little interest in longer form cricket flock to it like moths to a flame.
It is in many ways seen as more entertainment and razzamatazz than it is cricket with dancing girls, pyrotechnics and blaring music setting the scene.
Some traditionalists even see it as an abomination – a blight on the face of an otherwise majestic and beautiful sport.
Many argued that the introduction of the T20 format would see a major dilution in the technique and specific abilities required of players to succeed at the ultimate form of the sport – Test cricket.
T20s at an international level are still very much in their infancy with the first match being played on 17 February 2005 in Auckland between New Zealand and Australia.
In 2008, we saw the launch of the Indian Premier League which in no time was providing players from all over the world with riches they could have hardly contemplated a few years earlier.
The success of the IPL has spawned other franchise-based T20 competitions, among them the Big Bash League which will enter its second season tomorrow evening.
Very few top flight players nowadays are not exposed to the T20 game.
But has that made a major difference in the technique of players and has it seen a flow on effect as a result in Test cricket.
Well, as far as the batsmen are concerned, you could argue that it has had little impact.
In the history of Test cricket – now stemming 135 years – a total of 288 double centuries have been scored.
Of those, 58 of them have been amassed in the period since the birth of the T20 international just under eight years ago.
That equates to 20.1 per cent of all double centuries scored and they have been notched up over a total of 321 Test matches or 16 per cent of all those played.
Over the same period, seven of the all-time 27 triple-centuries have been scored or 25.9 per cent.
Many would argue that better bats and shortened boundaries have had a large impact but both those changes were happening long before T20 cricket became part of the landscape.
Since the evolution of T20, team scoring rates have also increased.
The average total for a day’s has been increased with some of the scoring rates bordering on the sensational – day one of the recent Adelaide Test is a case in point with Australia posting 5/482 off 87 overs against the world’s number one ranked team.
The Proteas responded in similar fashion in Perth with a second innings of 569 at a run rate of 5.1 per over.
During that innings A B de Villiers brought up his century with three successive reverse swept boundaries – shades of T20?
Batsmen are more audacious in their shot selection nowadays and often do little to assuage the traditionalist but certainly excite the average fan.
It could be argued that Test arena from a batting angle has become a more explosive in the wake of the emergence of T20.
And, as a result, the fans are receiving better entertainment.
It is more difficult to quantify the impact on the bowlers in the past eight years.
However, the increase in scoring rates naturally means that bowlers’ averages across the board have increased but, interestingly, with regard to strike rates little has changed.
And then of course there are the financial implications of T20 cricket.
Just as the one-day game served to prop up the coffers of various boards around the world so too does the T20 game.
The declining crowds and somewhat formulaic approach to the 50-over game was one of the major geneses for the development of T20.
And with it has come a whole new revenue stream which by extension has had an impact on the viability of Test cricket.
The likes of the franchise-based Big Bash League may not be everyone’s idea of cricket but like the arrival of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket it is hard to argue that it has not benefited the sport as a whole.
The big test ahead for the game’s administrators is to provide the appropriate balance across all three genres.
First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 6 December 2012