Sam Collins and Jarrod Kimber were nothing more than two ordinary journalists before 2015. Hailing from opposite sides of cricket’s biggest rivalry, they became household names. Almost overnight. Their documentary – “Death of a Gentleman” while shedding light on the drastic fall in popularity in test cricket, highlighted an unbelievably key component in the future of the game. What they unveiled in their hour long video left the cricket enthusiast and most of the cricket fraternity shell shocked.
Twenty 20 Cricket has increasingly become perhaps “the only format” on the minds of most of the cricket faithful. As many put it, pulling crowds of 20 to 30 year old’s to 5 day test matches has gone from the improbable to the impossible. As for the players, it allows them to exhibit a certain swagger one cannot possibly express in another format. That, coupled with the massive cash incentives and entertainment has created a win-win situation for all.
One of the interesting questions posed by Collins and Kimber through their documentary was, “How much of an impact would T20 have in the years to come?” Well, given the fact that we now have a T20 world cup and a domestic league in almost all full-member nations, the answer seems quite obvious.
The 17th of February 2005 marked what has become the ‘Red Letter Day’ in T20 Cricket. It would quite famously become the day that would change the game of cricket forever. Without a single of the 50,000 seats vacant in the iconic and picturesque Eden Park in Auckland, Trans-Tasmanian rivals Australia and New Zealand took the field. As the world watched the first official T20 international played, a set of firsts too were achieved. Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting’s scintillating 55 balled 98 proved a universal truth in T20 cricket – T20 is not tailor-made for anyone.
As Ponting blasted away, each of the 50,000 present at Eden Park felt something different. It was a feeling that had been felt only once before in 1977, during Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. The ‘Ripple Effect’ was almost instant. Although the Kiwis fell short of 40 odd runs, the format had indeed made its everlasting mark on the folks at Auckland.
The Indian Cricket team’s tryst with the exciting format is something of a fairy tale story. The fairytale began in the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup in South Africa. On the back of a disastrous World Cup that saw coach Greg Chappel and much of the senior side shown the door, MS Dhoni and his young side took center stage. The Indian journey, as exciting as it was, produced a series of record breaking firsts. Kingsmead, Durban witnessed international cricket’s first ever bowl-out. Yuvraj Singh once more showcased his love for English bowling by blasting a hapless Stuart Broad for 6 sixes in the very same over.
Fittingly, the fairytale concluded with a top-edge from Misbah ul-Haq landing in the safe hands of S Sreesanth. The event has been portrayed by many as the start of Indian dominance in world cricket. While bringing down the curtain on a splendid world cup winning story, the fairy tale launched not only India’s, but perhaps the world’s biggest cricketing festival.
Played under the heat of the Indian summer, the Indian Premier League would go on to change the face of India cricket. Atrocious sums of money poured in as the cash rich IPL took flight in the summer of 2008. Similar to the Big Bash League played in Australia, the IPL brought together some of the World’s Best Cricketers on display. Behind all the successes in the cash rich League was Lalit Modi. Although he would eventually be ousted in a series of controversies, he had created a monster.
The IPL, the Big Bash league, the Caribbean Premier League and such other domestic tournaments are a mere preview to the impact the T20 cricket has had on the world. As previously mentioned, the ripple effect has spread leap and bounds and has had an incredible impact on the sport.
While Twenty 20 cricket has had many a positive impacts on the game, the negative side to it usually goes un-noticed. The repetitiveness of playing the shortest format of the game may eventually lead to the death of test cricket as we know it. The recently concluded series between India and South Africa is a prime example of the negative effects of shorter formats of the game. Test Matches concluding within three to four days is most definitely a concern. Legends and experts such as Arun Lal, Michael Holding and Boria Mazumdar have all voiced their concerns regarding the preservation of the longest format of the game.
Twenty 20 cricket has an extremely bright future. As long as the sport successfully retains its fans, the eye-catching format will certainly grow to higher levels. However, that said, the negative impact of the shortest format of the game must be clearly understood by the administrators and the stuffed shirts running the game.