Twenty20 selling tickets, but not the game's soul
Patrick Kidd in The Times writes that the Twenty20 Cup, which starts today, has grown from a gimmick into a fully-fledged and respected competition.
Eagles fighting with Sharks, sparks flying between the Dynamos and the Lightning, and a derby between the Brown Caps and the men in pink shirts: it’s Twenty20 time again as the shortest form of cricket starts its fifth season this afternoon. Yet somewhere over the past four years of beach parties, mascot races and evening boozing, a decent tournament has emerged. Counties no longer need gimmicks to fill their grounds, many people come simply to watch cricket.
Last year, more than 500,000 people watched Twenty20 and the growth is set to be even greater this season, with Surrey alone having sold more than 100,000 tickets for the Brown Caps’ four home games and many other counties reporting sell-outs.
In The Daily Telegraph, Martin Smith flags 20 Twenty20 facts you might not know … and interesting they are too.
No one has hit a century in an international Twenty20 match. Ricky Ponting went closest for Australia against New Zealand in 2005 - in the very first Twenty20 international - but finished on 98 not out scored from 55 balls. Cameron White, predictably an Australian, holds the highest individual score, thumping an unbeaten 141 (14 fours, six sixes, 70 balls) for Somerset against Worcestershire last summer. He also shares the second-highest total of 116 not out. A crowd of 26,500 turned up to watch Middlesex v Surrey in 2004, the first Twenty20 match at Lord's, the largest attendance for a county game other than a one-day final since 1953. Middlesex will wear pink outfits in the Twenty20 Cup this season in support of their partnership with Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa