Make way for Twenty20

I have to admit it. I’m a believer. I don’t like Twenty20 cricket – I love it! Don’t get me wrong: If we could chose but one form of the game, I’d take Test cricket without hesitation. There has been some concern that Test cricket will become less popular and struggle to survive because of T20. The way I see it, 50 over ODI cricket is the one that should make way. For many years I have found 50 overs cricket boring. Isn’t that one of the reasons for the invention of T20?

I read in a recent Cricinfo article that “Twenty20 matches are generally vibrant, high-octane affairs”. That is well said. In reducing the timeframe of the match, the effort and intensity is effectively concentrated and the results are often stunning. The bowlers seem to bowl faster and send down more jaffas. The batsmen hit it higher and further and the fielding is usually at another level. Voges catch the other night was something else – unbelievable. I won’t bother describing it because you will have all seen it (if not have a look in Youtube) but it had everything – skill, incredible presence of mind and superb athleicism. I’m not saying that the catch could not have been taken in a Test or ODI. However, in T20, the boundaries are being pushed harder and more often than other forms of the game.

Admittedly, a T20 can flop if the team batting first is 6-25 and struggles to 77. But at least we get it over with and look forward to the next game. In an ODI, it’s painful when the team batting first is 6-25 after 8 overs and spends then next 33 overs grinding out another 82 runs.

Some might say that T20 does not have the character of a Test and that the players are not tested as in Tests. Guys like Tait can send down thunder bolts for a handful of overs but will never make it in Test cricket. All of that is true. But why care? If you take T20 for what it is, and stop comparing it to Test cricket, you should find that it is exciting and enjoyable. And it does showcase most of cricket’s skills in a very positive way.

I remember back in the dark ages when Olympic swimming did not have 50m events. Can you believe it? A race had to be 100m or more to be worthy. Fiddle sticks! I recall a guy dubbed the Singapore Sling. He was acknowledged to be the fastest in the world over 50m but of course he never won a medal because he couldn’t keep the after burners blowing for quite long enough. Today, he would be a sensation. Those old fogies at FINA finally decided that 50m races wouldn’t be a bad idea. I’m not sure where T20 fits into the analogy – does T20 equate to the 50m or is it more like a 15 m race? Hmmm…. Perhaps ignore that last comment.

BTW, Adam Voges flew to Perth that night and was dismissed by Brett Geeves for a six ball duck.

Anyway, Australia has already arrived in South Africa to see if they can keep, and lay some credibility to their number one ranking. Ponting has handled and posed with the Holy sceptre that is proof of Test match ascendancy. I hope he fixed the moment in his mind.

The first Test gets under way in Johannesburg on Thursday, 26 Feb.

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