20/20 Cricket – Fad or Framework?


Last week saw Australia take on New Zealand at the WACA in Perth in yet another game of 20/20 cricket. If you don’t know what 20/20 cricket is… shame on you. Why are you even reading this? Get off my site.

There’s been a mixed reaction to 20/20. A lot of people have jumped on the 20/20 bandwagon like Sydneysiders jumped on the Swans bandwagon when they signed Tony Lockett. Others have remained pretty skeptical. You may ask what my reaction to it is. Well, I’m glad you asked!

Like 90% of sports fans in Australia, I watched the first 20/20 match on Aussie soil when Australia took on the South Africans a few years back at the Gabba. Australia smashed the CricketBoks worse than Rocky Balboa beating up Spider Rico in one of the most exciting yet one sided contests in the history of team sport. The only black mark on the entire game was that Damien Martyn was playing – the Captain of the worst 11 cricket players of all time to have worn a Baggy Green.

Everything was new and exciting about the game though. Both captains were miked up and had some banter with the commentators. There were big hits, plenty of runs, and lots of entertainment. In short, I had a fantastic time watching it. Even my Dad managed to sit down and watch 50% of it. And you know what? He loved every minute of it too.

Why was it so good?

Because, it was an event.

It was one off. I hadn’t seen anything like it before. It was a novelty. Something to savour. And then, disaster struck.

The bureaucrats in world cricket in the ICC (Mal Speed etc) saw that people liked it. So they did what every other sport does when it finds something good; market and exploit the crap out of it.

Suddenly, there were more 20/20 matches than you could poke a stick at. All this culminated in the worst example of ‘World Cup’ sport in the history of the universe – the 20/20 World Cup in South Africa.

Every game was as boring as could be, because it wasn’t new anymore. There was no excitement. It was a few big hits and lots of cheap wickets. No contest between bat and ball. It was either six, four, wicket or an air swing – and there were far too many of the latter.

Oh, and it was lame.

Is it any wonder that the tournament was a disaster on every front? It’s like Super League, or New Coke – desperate corporate moguls trying to take an already successful venture and make more money out of it. Absolute lunacy.

So, what then is the answer for 20/20 cricket? Am I saying it should be abandoned? Not at all! I think as a one off event each summer it’s fantastic. However, there should be no domestic 20/20 league, and a 20/20 World Cup should happen as often as Jessica Alba gets defeated in the ‘hottest woman on the planet competition’. I.e. never.

Why ban domestic 20/20? Let me tell you a story. I went to a domestic 20/20 game at the Gabba last year. I expected lots of big hits, and an exciting time. What I got was about as entertaining as watching a Richie Benaud strip tease. Here’s why it didn’t work:

1: The lame attempts to make it exciting for the crowd while the bowler was walking back to his mark. They played a grand total of 6 chart hits (the dance mix of Follow me was played almost endlessly) and it seemed more out of place than Paris Hilton at an economics seminar. The atmosphere really didn’t work. It seems that the governing minds of cricket think that to make cricket exciting for young people, playing loud music between each ball is the best answer. Wrong. Dead wrong.

2: Perhaps most importantly, none of the players were of international standard. Therefore, they weren’t actually that good, so every big hit they attempted came off woefully. I think in the 40 overs played, there were a grand total of 2 sixes – and the ropes at the Gabba had been brought in by a good 15 metres from the boundary.

In short – it plain sucked. And it won’t take off. Here’s why:

The reason the domestic soccer and basketball leagues haven’t taken off in Australia is the same reason domestic soccer and cricket leagues don’t take off in the USA. Both these countries are accustomed to watching the best athletes in the world. In the USA, the NBA, MLB and NFL are the best competitions of their kind anywhere in the world. In Australia, it’s the same for Rugby League, AFL and Rugby Union.

In Rugby league, the Australian domestic competition is light years ahead of its English and French rivals. In AFL, we’re the only country on the planet that even plays the damn game. In Rugby Union, we have the Super 14 – the best of the best players.

In other words, domestic soccer will never take off to a massive extent in Australia, because the players who play in Australia really aren’t very good. Same for domestic cricket. If international cricket is on tap, why would you watch domestic cricket? If Super 14 Rugby and Test match Rugby is on all the time, why would you watch the Australian Rugby Championships? The answer – you wouldn’t! Why would you try mediocre entertainment, when you could be having first rate entertainment? Why would you visit Adelaide, when you could visit Melbourne instead? Why would you settle for Jennifer Aniston, when you could have Jennifer Hawkins instead? I am of course, talking today’s Jennifer Aniston rather than when she was in her prime in the early seasons of Friends… *ahem*

If cricket’s promoters want to make 20/20 cricket good the answer is very simple. Don’t do ANYTHING. Leave it at one game per year. It’s the only logical answer. It’s fast paced, it can be exciting. But if you play any more of it, it’ll lose its novelty, excitement, value and all you will be left with is a watered down version of something everyone loves – like the NBL. And for goodness sake, lose the domestic 20/20 comp. It will only make people depressed and wonder why they bothered coming to a lame excuse for a cricket match, when instead they could be at home doing… well… anything else really.

  You know what I’m looking forward to most over summer? Sitting in front of the TV all day on Boxing Day with food and beer watching the cricket. The TEST cricket. And if there’s only one more 20/20 match on... I might just watch that too..

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Michael Clarke
Australia was way too good for the Kiwis

Mal Speed
Mal Speed - making money is
the number one priority


New Coke
We all remember New Coke
and the inimitable Max Headroom

Paris Hilton was never the
sharpest tool in the shed
Jennifer Aniston was in her prime
in the early years of Friends