Mike Holmans May 29, 2009

Twenty20's novelty wearing off

The novelty value of Twenty20 seems to be wearing off
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Five years ago, the first domestic Twenty20 match at Lord’s attracted 30,000 spectators. The two matches at Lord’s played so far this season have attracted about half that number – not each, but together. All the counties are seeing smaller crowds this year than last, and last year’s were lower than the year before. TV ratings for the IPL this year were down about 15% on last year.

The novelty value of Twenty20 seems to be wearing off. It has undoubtedly brought new people into watching cricket, whether live or on TV, but long-term success depends on whether these new cricket spectators carry on watching.

If their continued loyalty is dependent on the games being exciting, though, the prospect is fairly bleak, because relatively few Twenty20 games are particularly exciting. Only about 30% of games in the IPL have come down to the last over, a figure similar to the English domestic competition. In international Twenty20, fewer than one game in four goes to the wire. At least half the games are pretty much done and dusted by the end of the second innings powerplay, the remaining hour of the match merely giving concrete form to the inevitable.

Not that these figures are bad - in cricket terms. Longer games are even less likely to change their obvious trajectory in the last hour of play. But it compares very unfavourably with other mass-appeal sports.

In huge numbers of soccer games, the result is still uncertain with five minutes to go: a single goal would still be enough to equalise or one side to take a late lead. Hoping to get five runs in the bottom of the ninth in baseball may require huge optimism, but making up a one or two-run difference remains within most teams’ capacity - it only takes one big hit.. With their higher scores, oval ball codes of football tend to be more or less decided rather earlier – once a team needs to score more than once and at least every five minutes, they are very likely to lose – but the tension usually lasts well past the two-thirds point.

Twenty20 moves considerably faster than the longer forms of cricket, but by comparison with other sports it is like watching people racing through treacle.

Longer forms make up for inevitability by offering a stage for individuals to shine. Within the context of a virtually-decided match, there are often subsidiary dramas to sustain interest. Bowlers can get useful hauls and batsmen can play innings long enough to be memorable. Twenty-wicket cricket, whether four-day or five-day, has the further advantage that while it may be obvious that one side cannot win, the possibility that they will not lose remains open right until the end.

Twenty20, though, depends almost entirely on the result for drama. In four overs, a bowler is doing well to take even two wickets, and it takes something spectacular for an individual batsman to stand out. There is much less to talk about with your mates on the way home.

I am not trying to knock Twenty20. I enjoy Twenty20 a great deal. It doesn’t bother me that it does not in practice live up to the ambitious marketing of thrills and spills all the way; I am wholly accustomed to watching matches where not much happens, so one close game in three is quite OK in my book. What is far more dubious is whether the casual fans who have been sufficiently attracted by the new format to give boring old cricket a try will persist with it once they’ve rumbled that underneath the glitz, flashing lights and dancing girls, the central attraction is still cricket.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • MV on June 2, 2009, 4:01 GMT

    As said before, let the game be more bowler friendly, as one who enjoys the Tests the most of all forms, its terribly boring to see ever alternate ball being hit for a 4 or 6. Even more, In cricket there is no place for all the side attractions (cheerleaders, fireworks, etc), get rid of these and i may watch. Also the IPL is absolutely irritating with DLF MAXIMUMS, stop using the format as a cash cow and more a expansion tool. The ultimate is the bat Vs ball and see who wins. lets keep it at that.

  • mikkey on June 2, 2009, 1:12 GMT

    IPL was huge, i myself stayed glued all the matches and when i picked DC as my favourite team, excitement went sky high, The real fun starts in IPL when you pick your team and start supporting it. I dont think T20 world cup will match IPL, The quality cricket that was dispalyed in IPL was amazing.. I bet KKR team from IPL can defeat most of the teams that are playing in T20 World cup.

  • anton on June 1, 2009, 19:26 GMT

    I suspect English players love 20-20 cricket and love to play it, but it is portrayed negatively in the English press by writers and journalists, most of whom are in their 50s and 60s. One of them being the author of this very article (not that I have anything against Mike, he is an excellent cricket writer), but you can imagine they won't take to it because they like the gentle form of the game.

    [Mike: I think T20 is a wonderful form of the game, and have said so consistently since it was introduced in England. But a lot of the younger people who got enthusiastic about when it started here are already drifting away. Whether the same will happen elsewhere I don't know - but it could. In India, where cricket is the number one sport, any dropoff is likely to be less, but I'm not at all confident that T20 leagues in Australia or South Africa will be major money-spinners.]

  • pks on June 1, 2009, 15:30 GMT

    t20 is going to give cricket soccer status in next few years.... Bcos in 50\50 or test cricket any new country will take years to register a win against established teams but in 20\20 anyhting can happen..

  • T20man on June 1, 2009, 15:21 GMT

    I doubt very much that the novelty of T/20 cricket will be wearing off in a hurry. I think the recent success of the IPL (played in a foreign country!!) is proof enough of that. I've been a huge cricket fan for 30 years now and I do love my Tests and 50 over versions of the game. But if there is a more exciting and action-packed sport out there somewhere (than T/20), then I'm yet to see it.

    Most soccer and baseball matches are bore-fests in comparison. In soccer most of the after game highlights centre around how somebody ALMOST scored...while running around like a maniac for 90 minutes...:-). Then once in a blue moon you see a match with a few goals, and they call it the game of the year.

    T/20 is the 1 cricket format which gets people through the turnstiles (me included) and is capable of introducing new fans (and maybe even new countries) to the game of cricket. This should be encouraged.

    The 20/20 World Championship starts next weekend...I'll be watching!!

  • andy on June 1, 2009, 14:31 GMT

    I think the English should be banned from T20 games. Why do they play this game if they hate it so much? This I can not understand. They have been whining ever since the IPL started about 20/20 games, and talk about the sanctity of the test match (mind you they are not even very good in that - we will know their worth after the Ashes!) ever so constantly. If they are so obsessed with this, just ban all the players who play 20/20 from English cricket and for heaven sake why host the World Cup T20 in England. They better believe that it is too late to beat the IPL success now and so either they shut up or put up with 20/20 games.

    [Mike: Like so many, you have completely missed the point I was making. This is not about knocking T20 or wanting to see it buried, or wanting the IPL to fail

    . The question is whether the current popularity of T20 will be sustained once the novelty has worn off. Those who already love cricket have no perspective on that: it's the long-term loyalty of the new audiences that is uncertain, and no amount of saying how wonderful T20 or the IPL are is going to make it any more certain. Only time will tell.]

  • Anton on June 1, 2009, 13:39 GMT

    I say there is room for 20-20. If 20-20 creates new fans, why do the traditionalists oppose it? Isn't it good for cricket to have more fans? One of the great things about 20-20 is that it you feel its never too for away from finish, which you cannot with ODIs and test cricket. The shortness of it is one big attraction. Having said that, I still much prefer test cricket because I grew up with it. But I feel 20-20 could seriously grow new markets like China, Japan, Malaysia, Uganda, Namibia, Holland, Kenya, Canada (with its big Indian and West Indian population). These countries won't take cricket seriously if they only see the longer form, its too long for most peopel who have't grown up on cricket.

    A country like Japan where baseball is pretty big, but if they saw how action-packed 20-20 is compared to baseball where the batters hardly lay bat on ball, they could take to it.

  • OJP on June 1, 2009, 11:44 GMT

    I like to think of T20 like a snack and test cricket like a banquet. Sometimes you feel in the mood for one, sometimes the other.

    T20 is absolutely here to stay, and that's a good thing. However, if Test cricket disappeared overnight, someone would re-invent it sooner or later.

  • Adam on June 1, 2009, 11:41 GMT

    I think the idea of "overkill" is a gross simplification. What we need to avoid is too many meaningless games. T20 is a great version of cricket, but spectators will only enjoy watching it, and players will only enjoy playing it if the games have context.

    What we need to avoid is a situation where there are several competing tournaments, no-one is sure which is the "real deal" and the confounded public ends up watching none of them. Lets have a sensible and well organised calendar including:

    A world cup every four years, interspersed with international best-of-3 series which count for qualification and rankings (so they actually mean something).

    One Indian domestic league in March/April One Southern hemisphere domestic league in January/February One English domestic league in June/July One champions league in October

    Best of four test series which are arranged in between.

    Far fewer ODIs (best-of-3 series only) - but again with seedings for the 50 over world cup up for grabs.

  • Arun Jose on June 1, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    Couldn't resist commenting here!

    I enjoy watching test cricket. The sight of Akram trying to dislodge Dravid or Warne trying to outwit Sachin might not happen anymore. Still, I love watching Test Cricket as I understand it.

    Consider an American cheerleader who had to do the cheering during IPL. I am sure by the end of the tourney they would have started understanding the game as well. And I clearly read some lines mentioning the same in Mischief Gal blog in Page 2.

    And through the body of this poor effort, Mike, you are trying to compare T20 with Soccer and Test Cricket at different points. I am sure that was clearly meant to show T20 in bad light.

    Shed your apprehensions and embrace this format as this is what is going to take Cricket to newer audience and Market, not 50-50 or Test Cricket.

  • MV on June 2, 2009, 4:01 GMT

    As said before, let the game be more bowler friendly, as one who enjoys the Tests the most of all forms, its terribly boring to see ever alternate ball being hit for a 4 or 6. Even more, In cricket there is no place for all the side attractions (cheerleaders, fireworks, etc), get rid of these and i may watch. Also the IPL is absolutely irritating with DLF MAXIMUMS, stop using the format as a cash cow and more a expansion tool. The ultimate is the bat Vs ball and see who wins. lets keep it at that.

  • mikkey on June 2, 2009, 1:12 GMT

    IPL was huge, i myself stayed glued all the matches and when i picked DC as my favourite team, excitement went sky high, The real fun starts in IPL when you pick your team and start supporting it. I dont think T20 world cup will match IPL, The quality cricket that was dispalyed in IPL was amazing.. I bet KKR team from IPL can defeat most of the teams that are playing in T20 World cup.

  • anton on June 1, 2009, 19:26 GMT

    I suspect English players love 20-20 cricket and love to play it, but it is portrayed negatively in the English press by writers and journalists, most of whom are in their 50s and 60s. One of them being the author of this very article (not that I have anything against Mike, he is an excellent cricket writer), but you can imagine they won't take to it because they like the gentle form of the game.

    [Mike: I think T20 is a wonderful form of the game, and have said so consistently since it was introduced in England. But a lot of the younger people who got enthusiastic about when it started here are already drifting away. Whether the same will happen elsewhere I don't know - but it could. In India, where cricket is the number one sport, any dropoff is likely to be less, but I'm not at all confident that T20 leagues in Australia or South Africa will be major money-spinners.]

  • pks on June 1, 2009, 15:30 GMT

    t20 is going to give cricket soccer status in next few years.... Bcos in 50\50 or test cricket any new country will take years to register a win against established teams but in 20\20 anyhting can happen..

  • T20man on June 1, 2009, 15:21 GMT

    I doubt very much that the novelty of T/20 cricket will be wearing off in a hurry. I think the recent success of the IPL (played in a foreign country!!) is proof enough of that. I've been a huge cricket fan for 30 years now and I do love my Tests and 50 over versions of the game. But if there is a more exciting and action-packed sport out there somewhere (than T/20), then I'm yet to see it.

    Most soccer and baseball matches are bore-fests in comparison. In soccer most of the after game highlights centre around how somebody ALMOST scored...while running around like a maniac for 90 minutes...:-). Then once in a blue moon you see a match with a few goals, and they call it the game of the year.

    T/20 is the 1 cricket format which gets people through the turnstiles (me included) and is capable of introducing new fans (and maybe even new countries) to the game of cricket. This should be encouraged.

    The 20/20 World Championship starts next weekend...I'll be watching!!

  • andy on June 1, 2009, 14:31 GMT

    I think the English should be banned from T20 games. Why do they play this game if they hate it so much? This I can not understand. They have been whining ever since the IPL started about 20/20 games, and talk about the sanctity of the test match (mind you they are not even very good in that - we will know their worth after the Ashes!) ever so constantly. If they are so obsessed with this, just ban all the players who play 20/20 from English cricket and for heaven sake why host the World Cup T20 in England. They better believe that it is too late to beat the IPL success now and so either they shut up or put up with 20/20 games.

    [Mike: Like so many, you have completely missed the point I was making. This is not about knocking T20 or wanting to see it buried, or wanting the IPL to fail

    . The question is whether the current popularity of T20 will be sustained once the novelty has worn off. Those who already love cricket have no perspective on that: it's the long-term loyalty of the new audiences that is uncertain, and no amount of saying how wonderful T20 or the IPL are is going to make it any more certain. Only time will tell.]

  • Anton on June 1, 2009, 13:39 GMT

    I say there is room for 20-20. If 20-20 creates new fans, why do the traditionalists oppose it? Isn't it good for cricket to have more fans? One of the great things about 20-20 is that it you feel its never too for away from finish, which you cannot with ODIs and test cricket. The shortness of it is one big attraction. Having said that, I still much prefer test cricket because I grew up with it. But I feel 20-20 could seriously grow new markets like China, Japan, Malaysia, Uganda, Namibia, Holland, Kenya, Canada (with its big Indian and West Indian population). These countries won't take cricket seriously if they only see the longer form, its too long for most peopel who have't grown up on cricket.

    A country like Japan where baseball is pretty big, but if they saw how action-packed 20-20 is compared to baseball where the batters hardly lay bat on ball, they could take to it.

  • OJP on June 1, 2009, 11:44 GMT

    I like to think of T20 like a snack and test cricket like a banquet. Sometimes you feel in the mood for one, sometimes the other.

    T20 is absolutely here to stay, and that's a good thing. However, if Test cricket disappeared overnight, someone would re-invent it sooner or later.

  • Adam on June 1, 2009, 11:41 GMT

    I think the idea of "overkill" is a gross simplification. What we need to avoid is too many meaningless games. T20 is a great version of cricket, but spectators will only enjoy watching it, and players will only enjoy playing it if the games have context.

    What we need to avoid is a situation where there are several competing tournaments, no-one is sure which is the "real deal" and the confounded public ends up watching none of them. Lets have a sensible and well organised calendar including:

    A world cup every four years, interspersed with international best-of-3 series which count for qualification and rankings (so they actually mean something).

    One Indian domestic league in March/April One Southern hemisphere domestic league in January/February One English domestic league in June/July One champions league in October

    Best of four test series which are arranged in between.

    Far fewer ODIs (best-of-3 series only) - but again with seedings for the 50 over world cup up for grabs.

  • Arun Jose on June 1, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    Couldn't resist commenting here!

    I enjoy watching test cricket. The sight of Akram trying to dislodge Dravid or Warne trying to outwit Sachin might not happen anymore. Still, I love watching Test Cricket as I understand it.

    Consider an American cheerleader who had to do the cheering during IPL. I am sure by the end of the tourney they would have started understanding the game as well. And I clearly read some lines mentioning the same in Mischief Gal blog in Page 2.

    And through the body of this poor effort, Mike, you are trying to compare T20 with Soccer and Test Cricket at different points. I am sure that was clearly meant to show T20 in bad light.

    Shed your apprehensions and embrace this format as this is what is going to take Cricket to newer audience and Market, not 50-50 or Test Cricket.

  • Bhailu on June 1, 2009, 10:52 GMT

    Mike I dont understand that where you are getting topics and figures from. Football is dumb game and baseball alike. If you are saying last minute goal or 2-3 runs in last innings of base ball make it exciting then why dont you say that last over 28 runs and last over three wickets will change the results in T20. Your comparison is totaly absurd and out of the context. I understand that where it is pinching you as IPL is more successful then dumb domestic english season. Like all the diehard fans most of them will remain with the game whether it is football, baseball or cricket. So there is no question of of T20 is loosing its charm. Pace your self with the time otherwise you will too wear off the charm here........

  • Dal-boy on June 1, 2009, 9:45 GMT

    Personally, I really don't care for T20 cricet at all. I rate myself a pretty big cricket fan ans generally keep track of all the series happening round the world, yet I took no interest at all in the IPL. Cricket is meant to be a battle between bat and ball - T20 is just a slog feast. I'm looking forward to the Ashes way more the T20 cup and I'm a Kiwi, so the Black Caps don't even play in the ashes. Good pitches are vital for test cricket, a bad pitch makes the toss to important and watching two teams both score 650 in the first innings just make games a bore. As a Kiwi, rugby is the game here - T20 is like sevens rugby. It's Ok, you can party, drink a lot --- but all the real players and fans know that the real game has 15 players. Real cricket where the best team wins, and luck and who is having a good day play way less a role - goes for 5 days.

  • Treeleaper on June 1, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    The beauty of cricket is all about the mastery of batsmen playing their shots and the drama as the long game (or indeed the 50 over game) unfolds. There is little beauty in 20/20 and not a lot of drama. That game does dis-service to the name of cricket. Test cricket has been around for a long time. My guess is that 20/20 will be around for less than half as long. Punters want to see skill, not slog and hope. As soon as consumer interest falls off, the money men will take their wallets off to the next best thing.

  • Andrew on June 1, 2009, 6:00 GMT

    I agree with with you mike. Unfortunatley your valid points seems to have washed over most people here. T20 is exciting now becaus eit is still relatively new. If you just keep adding more and more T20 across the world (Even in india) it stops becoming a drawcard and ends up becoming a regular event people can watch wherever and non-cricket followers will start weighing up a day at the cricket with a day at the movies. Some will choose the first, some will choose the latter. If people want proof of this, research the Australian basketball league NBL. They were packing out the arenas every week, now next to no-one goes and a lot of clubs are going bankrupt. The T20 phenomenon needs to be held back for its own good and not expanded.

  • shakester on June 1, 2009, 5:23 GMT

    Since you have a clear stat for the number of games going down to the wire in the IPL (which, with 'last over'as a premise, is a bit flawed, but nevermind that for the moment), it would only be natural for you to provide me with the same figures for this year's premier league footabll, and/or the other sports you have mentioned. Waving an arm to it and saying 'usually' or 'huge numbers' are more exciting doesn't quite cut it, no?

  • Ray on June 1, 2009, 5:20 GMT

    ... performance by S Africa or W Indies might capture the attention of people in these countries and even inspire a few more youngsters to pick up a bat or ball. Success begets success.

  • redneck on June 1, 2009, 5:19 GMT

    one can only hope twenty20 is wearing off on people! long live tests and ODI cricket!!! @done you use new zealand and then many american leages and american sports in you example. firstly new zealand are nuts about rugby league and union, sports which are also played by and followed by many cricket nations yet you mention neither of those sports as a threat? and the sports you do mention are almost all only played in the usa exclusivly with a presence in canada of which has little impact on our sport cricket, or the nations that play it! yes basketball in the west indies could be argued to be opposition to cricket but thats about it. ice hockey or american football has a much chance of killing off cricket as the usa have in winning the cricket world cup. zero

  • Ray on June 1, 2009, 5:19 GMT

    Mike, the key here are the international sides. If England was slightly more successful in T20 cricket on the global stage, there would be more English people watching T20 games. Remember the sudden surge of interest in cricket after Ashes 05? Heck if India hadn't won the last T20 World Cup, the IPL probably would not exist today.

    The apparent indifference to failure that recent England sides have been displaying in all formats - Tests, ODIs, and T20s - is surely one of the reasons for poor crowd showing in England. The players will of course say, "but every loss hurts us deep inside" and maybe it does, but they're definitely doing a good job hiding their disappointment on and off the field. If the side could get their act together and reach the semi finals in the upcoming T20 World Cup, or at least show a bit of fight instead of losing non-chalantly, people in England who start watching T20 might stick to it at least for a while.

    This applies to all participating sides. A strong ...

  • Marcus on June 1, 2009, 2:57 GMT

    Prakash

    I think there is a very real danger of overkill, with these new plans for T20 leagues. First- two IPLs a year is on the table. Even if the second one is shorter- who needs two? Second- the proposed American Premier League, which if you ask me is just a silly proposal that probably won't succeed in attracting a new American audience anyway. Third- the P20 league, which would be fine except that the ECB will continue to run its existing T20 championship alongside it. Again I have to ask- who needs two? Fourth, the proposals for a "Super 14" type event featuring franchises from Australian, South African and New Zealand states/provinces- and again I understand that the proposal is for each country to retain its existing T20 championship as well.

    With all of these teams operating in all of these leagues, sharing players, who'll be able to keep track of which player is playing for which team, in which competition? It'll just put people off IMO. "Less is more."

  • Leeroy on June 1, 2009, 2:22 GMT

    Commenting on T20 is a tricky thing it seems. Praise it and you incur the scorn of traditionalists, but criticize it and you're labeled a stick-in-the mud traditionalist yourself. Personally, I don't mind T20 cricket as long as it's kept in perspective. Although I still haven't enjoyed many T20 games yet. Keep T20 down to a few warm up matches in an international tour, a regular T20 world cup, and a shortened IPL. The IPL has been way too long. I don't really enjoy the IPL. I've found it terribly drawn out and boring to watch partly because like many non-Indians, I just don't care if Rajahstan beat Deccan. However, I realize it's an Indian tournament and as such it has it's following there. but for heaven's sake, shorten it a bit. T20 can be good to watch on occasion, but it should not dominate the scene. It should also never come to the detriment of 50 over ODI's where there is more time to ply skills and give a fairer contest between bat and ball.

  • done on June 1, 2009, 0:05 GMT

    cricket is a dying sport, we can all see it, in NZ roughly 70-80 people show up to watch a test match, it can never compete with mlb, nhl, nba, nfl, epl, cricket will only remain popular in india.

  • DevBard on May 31, 2009, 21:47 GMT

    Domestic cricket does draw crowds in England but not in India ( except for the ICL and IPL T20) Test cricket does not sell at all in India. The India vs Aus Tests are next to the Ashes Series in popularity but still played to empty stands in India! Compare that to the ICL T20 matches which after a slow start the grounds were overflowing all through. Test Cricket still sells in England, but the crowds for the WI test was disappointing. I am not surprised with the low turn outs. Blame it on Setanta (for bringing IPL) or the T20 World cup.

  • DevBard on May 31, 2009, 21:34 GMT

    If we had P20 instead of the domestic T20, the grounds would have been overflowing.This is a packed year with T20 World cup and IPL has defined a new level which the domestic T20 is unable to offer. I think ECB missed the boat by delaying the P20 by a year.

  • Atish_G on May 31, 2009, 16:39 GMT

    Mike, you define close games as those with an unpredictable result till the last over. Those are about 1 in 3. But how about expanding that criterion to the last two overs ? Or even 3 ? I feel that a game which could go either way till the end of the 17th or 18th over is still close. How many games in the this year's IPL make the cut with this revised limit ? If it's more than half, then I believe that the T20 format cannot be faulted for the gradual migration of the English audience away from it. The wearing off of novelty is inevitable. However, the wearing off of competitiveness should not be.

    [Mike: it's much more difficult to extract that kind of statistic, since I'm actually inferring the state of the game at the beginning of the final over from the eventual result. The general point I'm making is that cricket is inherently far more likely to produce one-sided games where the result is basically inevitable from a long time before the end than most other mass-appeal sports, and is thus more likely to become seen as boring by the casual fan. Therefore I think it is unwise to predicate future plans on the basis that the audiences for T20 will continue to grow rather than plateau and then gradually fall off. Multiple T20 leagues around the world run the risk of fighting for slices of a diminishing pie rather than increasing overall revenue as current and would-be promoters hope.

    I stress that these are risks, not inevitabilities. I have no interest in seeing these ventures collapse. The ambitious plans announced around the world may succeed in the medium- and long-term. I just think it is dangerous for cricket to be putting so many of its eggs into the same basket.]

  • Anton on May 31, 2009, 12:24 GMT

    Just to note, attendances have improved a lot in the last few round of matches in the 20-20 competition. Somerset had its biggest crowd ever and there were over 11,000 at Yorkshire Friday night. The oval also had a strong crowd Friday night, as did Notts.

  • Prakash on May 31, 2009, 11:00 GMT

    First lets not be apolgetic abt our Liking towards T20 matches. The Total T20 between played between countries is far less than One days or Test matches. So where is this over kill coming from???? I dont think many people know about Your Local T20 matches. ( India doesnt have one apart from IPL). Its high time we give Thumbs Up to this format. Cricket in 4 hrs with the Best of the Players is the future and not a Series like WI VS England where the total crowd turned was 100 People... Its a new order, the faster we adapt to it.. the mightier it will become...

  • Sanya on May 31, 2009, 8:52 GMT

    I like the T20 Championship in English County much more than IPL. Firstly, the grounds are bigger then tennis courts (Grounds in SA are small), the pitches are not like India, T20 is not hell for bowlers in England. And besides, Indians were critical of T20 first, they only liked it after India won in 2007, and a businessman (Lalit Modi) got an idea to increase his money, thats how IPL was born.

  • Sanya on May 31, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    IPL, APL...all this will be too much 'coz if you watch T20 all the time, you'll get bored with it. And when will players play for their country? How many tests will they play in a year? 5? I had heard about Peter Willy who only umpires in County Cricket to stay with family but those islanders played in IPL, away from family when West Indies were playing in tests. All this is spoiling cricket.

  • Ajinkya on May 31, 2009, 7:10 GMT

    As pointed out by Ranveer writing about the shorter format of the game has become a hackneyed style. The point here is that everyone enjoys close matches, but true cricket lovers also enjoy one sided matches as one (or few) players from the dominating side has played exceptionally well which enchants the fans. So anyways its a win win situation where fans can enjoy a close match or a blitzkrieg like one from Gilchrist or a deadly bowling performance like Dirk Nannes!

  • eon on May 31, 2009, 7:04 GMT

    In continuation to my prev comments- .otherwsie be ready for ckt extinction anyway .. gradually crowd is getting less and less and after some time there will be no watcher except few hundreds cricket journalists/critics. T20 is atleast attracting the crowd in big nos, getting new ckt lovers. If we don't get flexible enough to give space to t20 then ready for ckt extinction. No Viewership. No Money, No Motivation => Ckt Dies.

    Why are you getting so critical about it. You are trying to find each and every possible negatives about it. Take this article only. You didn't appreciated(you only acknowledged) the fact that t-20 has attracted even those who never seen ckt instead you looked the other side saying that its interesting to see that how long they will stick. This is height.

  • eon on May 31, 2009, 7:03 GMT

    Mike..Please respond to my comments. Whom are these players playing Cricket for? Is it for themselves or for some so called ckt critics/jouralist or for masses? How can a player be feel motivated with empty stands. How ckt can genearte money(thats require to feed players and their family and giving jobs to thousand others associated with ckt) when there are no viewers? Just before t20 origin every ckt community was worried over dying cricket. There were discussion about promoting ckt and now when t20 has given a new breath suddenly there are concerns. Please I like to see an article from you where you can give your thoughts on saving test ckt. Tell us what we can do to create public interest. From my point of view we can't/shouldn't do anything because test has to be played the way it is otherwise its no longer our tradition. But then if we do not change it then how can we attact the crowds? The only answer I see here is create new formats and that what t20 is ... continued...

  • Shyam on May 31, 2009, 6:59 GMT

    I agree with Adam, but it would only work if you get rid of one-day cricket (which funnily enough hasnt been mentioned much in the article or the feedback!!)

    Get rid of one-day cricket and make Bang and Zim play national A teams and associates. If one of the associates or Band/Zim can win that league let them join test cricket. Otherwise have 8 nationl teams playing 3 test series per year of 4 games minimum (3 test series are hard to win if you lose the first) and have 20-20 leagues around the world plus a champions league. The internatinoals can leave the league to play test cricket when they are called up.

    Will this affect the quality of test cricket? Not if the past five years are any indication. Eng vs Aus 2005, Aus vs Ind 2007/8, both Aus/SAF series were all classics.

    Its a big overhaul I agree, but the calendars are so messed up right now that the overhaul is needed.

  • Charindra on May 31, 2009, 5:51 GMT

    Ok the author can say anything he wants, but to suggest that football is more entertaining than T20 is ridiculous. In a typical 1-0 scoreline about 89 minutes of the game nothing happens. The reason for the growth of football was it's simplicity, the fact that only a ball is needed to play it in the backyard and the ease with which it can be learned. Football's foundation is so solid that no number of dead games, recessions or controversies can even threaten to upstage it as the 'world game'. But more exciting than T20 it certainly is not.

  • waterbuffalo on May 31, 2009, 4:36 GMT

    I reckon it depends who is playing. The Windies, who cares? The Aussies and Indians? Sure you would sell out. Nobody will watch Bangladesh getting destroyed by Sri Lanka, but Pakistan and India anywhere in the world would sell out (except in Pakistan). Good contests between competitive teams will attract an audience, and 20/20 actually allows a minnow like Zimbabwe or Bangladesh to cause an upset, like Zimbabwe beating Australia in the WC in 83, in that sense, 20/20 will always have an audience. I think there will be upsets in this World Cup, because anyone can beat anybody in this format. Whether the victories mean anything in the great scheme of things that is for the viewer to decide.

  • Abhi on May 31, 2009, 3:53 GMT

    Why all this noise about T20 overkill? Quite frankly, I don't care a bit about any other T20 series other than IPL and World T20. English people tend to give their second grade T20 series more importance than it actually deserves. Why these people are even talking about IPL TV ratings (would the writer mind mentioning the source of 15% figure?), you tell me if there is any other domestic tournaments held outside the home country with such great response. Please don't compare the English domestic season to IPL, not many (if any) care about English cricket in India, similarly these English fans and writers should give up on their obsession with IPL.

  • Ian on May 31, 2009, 0:41 GMT

    I think splitting a 20twenty game into sections would make it more exciting more often. example: 1st team bats ten overs, 2nd team bats its full twenty, then the first team concludes its innings. That way both teams get an opportunity to both set and chase a score. They also need to make the pitches more bowler friendly. As much as people enjoy big hitting, I get a little over it, lower scoring games with pressure on the batsmen would be much more exciting!

  • k chang on May 30, 2009, 22:29 GMT

    Most games in any sport are not that exciting. Think of all those yawning 0-0 football scores. I've watched baseball and I've watched 20/20 and 20/20 is way more consistently exciting. Something happens every ball in 20/20, unlike baseball with it's endless foul balls. Plus every baseball hit is the same. No variety at all. Give me 20/20 every time.

    "Posted by: Ashwin at May 30, 2009 4:44 PM

    The simplest way to make the game more entertaining is to let the bowlers bowl more overs - ideally, an unlimited number, not just 4."

    There's a simple solution for both 20/20 and ODIs - give a bowler an extra over for ever wicket and every maiden. If Murali has say 5 wickets after 4 overs, that's five more overs, with more potentially if he takes another wicket.

    It's not fair that a batsman can bat through the innings but a bowler can't. An extra over for every wicket or maiden would give a bowler on song a chance to theoretically take all ten.

  • Adam on May 30, 2009, 19:46 GMT

    If anything, we have far too little 20-20 cricket rather than too much. The game itself is very similar to baseball, which works because the MLB season lasts for 6 months and has 162 regular season games. This makes it possible to follow you team every single night - as a baseball fan, you live and breathe your team for 6 months of the year. It is the development of storylines over the course of the entire season that makes baseball so addictive. This is clearly what the T20 cup should do - a game every single evening from April to September, followed by a month of playoffs. If you think this is ridiculous, ask yourself this: how come baseball is the biggest spectator sport in the world then?

  • Lenn Marx on May 30, 2009, 17:13 GMT

    Whilst i hope it is true that 20/20 is losing its lustre (I dont enjoy the format and it detracts from the formats i enjoy- sue me) I suspect this may be a one off that has more to do with what else is going on this summer in England. I think given the world 20/20 and the Ashes amidst the major recession there is enough happening this year that hasn't been present in other English summers (remember the Ashes is a once in four years thing, the 20/20 cup annual) is enough to suggest this might be an aberration. In short I don't think it's fair to read anything at all into the crowd patterns based on this one season alone. This said I do however think that this spells doom for the proposed EPL or whatever it's to be called before it begins for it does suggest that 20/20 does not increase revenue constantly for each new competition- that there will be a saturation point and that is something the powers that be need to be mindful of as the boards greedily establish these new competition.

  • Ramu on May 30, 2009, 16:57 GMT

    What you say is true, but you have left out cricket's real black sheep, that is the ODI or 50 overs a side games. All the things you mention as being wrong with T20, also applies to 50 overs games and more. In a 50 overs a side game, when games are fairly decided, you have to wait a whole lot longer for the eventual conclusion. And I am sure that a lower percentage of ODI matches than the T20, actually go down to the wire. Also there could be other reasons for the viewership being down for this years' IPL. For example, the last IPL was broadcasted in Canada, on a paid cable channel (ATN Cricket Plus, just this channel costs $20 additional CAD per month). This year, I still had the channel displaying IPL, but only a repeat of last years games. This years IPL became a Pay-Per-View event. For me IPL is definitely NOT PPV material. And I feel for most people it is still TOO early to be a PPV event.

  • Ashwin on May 30, 2009, 16:44 GMT

    The simplest way to make the game more entertaining is to let the bowlers bowl more overs - ideally, an unlimited number, not just 4. In every spectator sport, there are certain things which must be present, and one of them is endurance. In Twenty20, however, only the batsman is even allowed to display this virtue, the bowler has to bow out after 24 turns of the arm. If Murali could have bowled 10 overs in the Twenty20 semifinal, Chennai would have won. In the end, what decided the outcome was not the superior skill of one team, but that the other team's key strength was reined in by the rules. There is not much point in cheering a game with such rules.

  • Owen Edwards on May 30, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    Jags, you can't be serious about an off-season. Most of the world gets the English summer off, and go play there if they fancy it. Barring international players, the same is true for English players.

    I absolutely agree with the thrust of this article - for all the merits of T20, are we setting ourselves up for a MASSIVE fall? Yes, yes we are.

  • loverOfAllForms on May 30, 2009, 15:30 GMT

    I think most of the IPL matches this year went down the wire..Also considering the fact was it was hosted in SA, the crowd turnout was huge.I am a true lover of test cricket..But I should say that I enjoyed 90% of the matches in this IPL.

    [Mike: It depends what you mean by down to the wire. In this year's IPL, the result was in reasonable doubt at the beginning of the last over in only one game in three. That established cricket-lovers enjoy T20 is not the point, though. It's whether those who didn't like cricket before but have tried T20 out will stay with it - and I am pessimistic whether most of them will.]

  • Jags Viswanathan on May 30, 2009, 14:39 GMT

    Read Dileep Vengsrakars caution of how too much of any cricket can kill the 20/20 goose. He is absolutely right about the mental fatigue factor coming into play for the Indian team in the World Cup 20/20. He has not even mentioned the physical fatigue of playing daily for months on end and that includes traveling across continents and time zones.

    Now here is a solution. Less cricket with a world wide off season similar to the baseball and foot ball off seasons that enable the players mind and body to recuperate and lets the cricket fan recharge his pockets for the next big event

  • anton on May 30, 2009, 11:41 GMT

    Also, the Engllish 20-20 is a very poor relation to the internationally star-studded IPL which is much more glitzy and, frankly, much more fun.

    Most of the matches in the IPL were in fact full houses or were close to that. Only a few matches had sluggish crowds. Excellenbt for the 'Indian Premier League' played in South Africa, don't you think. Now, contrast that to the test series between ENgland and the West Indies at Lords and Durham where the crowds were poor, especially at Durham because Lords always has good crowds for international matches, but this one was much less than other years. The atmosphere at both matches were very subdued. I love test cricket better than other forms, but I also think 20-20 is very good to watch.

    The television audiences in India were once again huge by newspaper reports in the FT and one or two other reputable newspapers.

    All franchisees actually made a profit this year, something that wasn't expected until the 3rd year.

  • sudhai hazell on May 30, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    maybe the those spectator in england are saving their money for the icc world twenty and the ashes. and plus there are saving their viewing for those events.

    [Mike: You can offer various reasons why this English season's attendances have not been very good, but all of them ignore the fact that the 2008 figures were down on 2007's, which were in turn down on 2006. There is no guarantee that because something started out successfully, it will continue to expand: my concern is that we will end up rearranging the world game to suit the T20 schedules just in time for the new audiences currently experimenting with T20 cricket to get bored and move on to the next new fad.]

  • anton on May 30, 2009, 11:34 GMT

    Cricket and football are different games. One of the reason why cricket fans like cricket is because cricket is very different to football. Also, I seem to remember a lot of IPl games going to the wire, a few even down to the last ball.

    There are good reason why the English 20-20 hasn't been agreat success this year. Its way to early in the season compare to other years - this year its started in May compared to mid-June last year. We have come off 2 very poor test series between England and West Indies (save for the alst day of the last test match in Antigua in the Caribbean series and the the day when WI unexpectedly routed the England team for a very low score early in the series), so there is no feel good factor to crossover from those series of matches.

    Then there is the world 20-20 which next week.

    The economic circumstances are very different this year with people unwilling to spend money they don't have to.

  • Gizza on May 30, 2009, 11:20 GMT

    Is there really less to talk about compared to other forms of cricket & other sports? The Cricinfo writers seem to write a lot in their daily bulletins and analytic articles during the IPL. Did you just, shall we say, "forget" about this Mike?

    I don't know of any sports whose essence is not savouring flashes of brilliance Ramesh. In soccer/football, the only thing talked about in a typical 1-0 name is the one goal scored in the entire 90 minutes. The only other moments covered in a soccer highlights show are the missed chances, missed shots on goal. Thats sort of like when a batsman looks to score runs, tries an aggressive shot but ends up being a dot ball. I don't know where you plucked the 2/3 figure from, because I've seen many rugby (union & league) and gridiron games which are all but settled at the halfway stage. Basketball & AFL are closer but are repitive, another goal another 2 points. Baseball relies on 9 innings. Splitting T20 into 10 2-over bursts will have same the effect

  • ramesh on May 30, 2009, 10:03 GMT

    very true .. cricket is a game whose essence is savouring flashes of brilliance in the field and bowling/batting .. whatever format you may make it is not going to turn into a football like sport ..

  • Ranveer Sahota, Hong Kong on May 30, 2009, 9:54 GMT

    Only partly right mate. For 20/20 has brought at least few million new fans to the game. A new 20/20 fan then makes an effort to understand the next level (50/50 to Test) of the game. Lately, it appears to have become fashionable for nearly every writer to condemn the shorter version of the game. Perhaps the fact that 'designed in the west but improved (and virtually taken over)' by Indians is not going down well with the supporters in the first world. Cricket is the next 'Jaguar' in Indian hands. It may not be comfortable to the old elites but is perhaps the only option for the beautiful game to survive. A fan base of about half a billion people around the globe may not equal football's numbers but is more than enough to generate intense rivalries. Football, Baseball and other sports may have more drama, intensity and passion but it will take lot more than that for Cricket lovers like myself to crossover. Eagerly awaiting the 20/20 world cup !!

    [Mike: But you're a cricket-lover already. The question is what proportion of the people who previously had no time for cricket but have been tempted to give the new format a try will still be watching in five and ten years' time. The English experience so far suggests that quite a few of them won't, and that ambitious expansion plans and setting up of multiple T20 leagues may be far less successful than promoters enthused by the initial burst of interest imagine.]

  • Marcus on May 30, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    All this overkill they're proposing- two IPLs a year, a County and P20 championship, the APL and so on- aren't going to help matters. I like T20, but just keep it to one or two internationals to kick off series, with a T20 World Cup every couple of years and a condensed IPL.

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  • Marcus on May 30, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    All this overkill they're proposing- two IPLs a year, a County and P20 championship, the APL and so on- aren't going to help matters. I like T20, but just keep it to one or two internationals to kick off series, with a T20 World Cup every couple of years and a condensed IPL.

  • Ranveer Sahota, Hong Kong on May 30, 2009, 9:54 GMT

    Only partly right mate. For 20/20 has brought at least few million new fans to the game. A new 20/20 fan then makes an effort to understand the next level (50/50 to Test) of the game. Lately, it appears to have become fashionable for nearly every writer to condemn the shorter version of the game. Perhaps the fact that 'designed in the west but improved (and virtually taken over)' by Indians is not going down well with the supporters in the first world. Cricket is the next 'Jaguar' in Indian hands. It may not be comfortable to the old elites but is perhaps the only option for the beautiful game to survive. A fan base of about half a billion people around the globe may not equal football's numbers but is more than enough to generate intense rivalries. Football, Baseball and other sports may have more drama, intensity and passion but it will take lot more than that for Cricket lovers like myself to crossover. Eagerly awaiting the 20/20 world cup !!

    [Mike: But you're a cricket-lover already. The question is what proportion of the people who previously had no time for cricket but have been tempted to give the new format a try will still be watching in five and ten years' time. The English experience so far suggests that quite a few of them won't, and that ambitious expansion plans and setting up of multiple T20 leagues may be far less successful than promoters enthused by the initial burst of interest imagine.]

  • ramesh on May 30, 2009, 10:03 GMT

    very true .. cricket is a game whose essence is savouring flashes of brilliance in the field and bowling/batting .. whatever format you may make it is not going to turn into a football like sport ..

  • Gizza on May 30, 2009, 11:20 GMT

    Is there really less to talk about compared to other forms of cricket & other sports? The Cricinfo writers seem to write a lot in their daily bulletins and analytic articles during the IPL. Did you just, shall we say, "forget" about this Mike?

    I don't know of any sports whose essence is not savouring flashes of brilliance Ramesh. In soccer/football, the only thing talked about in a typical 1-0 name is the one goal scored in the entire 90 minutes. The only other moments covered in a soccer highlights show are the missed chances, missed shots on goal. Thats sort of like when a batsman looks to score runs, tries an aggressive shot but ends up being a dot ball. I don't know where you plucked the 2/3 figure from, because I've seen many rugby (union & league) and gridiron games which are all but settled at the halfway stage. Basketball & AFL are closer but are repitive, another goal another 2 points. Baseball relies on 9 innings. Splitting T20 into 10 2-over bursts will have same the effect

  • anton on May 30, 2009, 11:34 GMT

    Cricket and football are different games. One of the reason why cricket fans like cricket is because cricket is very different to football. Also, I seem to remember a lot of IPl games going to the wire, a few even down to the last ball.

    There are good reason why the English 20-20 hasn't been agreat success this year. Its way to early in the season compare to other years - this year its started in May compared to mid-June last year. We have come off 2 very poor test series between England and West Indies (save for the alst day of the last test match in Antigua in the Caribbean series and the the day when WI unexpectedly routed the England team for a very low score early in the series), so there is no feel good factor to crossover from those series of matches.

    Then there is the world 20-20 which next week.

    The economic circumstances are very different this year with people unwilling to spend money they don't have to.

  • sudhai hazell on May 30, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    maybe the those spectator in england are saving their money for the icc world twenty and the ashes. and plus there are saving their viewing for those events.

    [Mike: You can offer various reasons why this English season's attendances have not been very good, but all of them ignore the fact that the 2008 figures were down on 2007's, which were in turn down on 2006. There is no guarantee that because something started out successfully, it will continue to expand: my concern is that we will end up rearranging the world game to suit the T20 schedules just in time for the new audiences currently experimenting with T20 cricket to get bored and move on to the next new fad.]

  • anton on May 30, 2009, 11:41 GMT

    Also, the Engllish 20-20 is a very poor relation to the internationally star-studded IPL which is much more glitzy and, frankly, much more fun.

    Most of the matches in the IPL were in fact full houses or were close to that. Only a few matches had sluggish crowds. Excellenbt for the 'Indian Premier League' played in South Africa, don't you think. Now, contrast that to the test series between ENgland and the West Indies at Lords and Durham where the crowds were poor, especially at Durham because Lords always has good crowds for international matches, but this one was much less than other years. The atmosphere at both matches were very subdued. I love test cricket better than other forms, but I also think 20-20 is very good to watch.

    The television audiences in India were once again huge by newspaper reports in the FT and one or two other reputable newspapers.

    All franchisees actually made a profit this year, something that wasn't expected until the 3rd year.

  • Jags Viswanathan on May 30, 2009, 14:39 GMT

    Read Dileep Vengsrakars caution of how too much of any cricket can kill the 20/20 goose. He is absolutely right about the mental fatigue factor coming into play for the Indian team in the World Cup 20/20. He has not even mentioned the physical fatigue of playing daily for months on end and that includes traveling across continents and time zones.

    Now here is a solution. Less cricket with a world wide off season similar to the baseball and foot ball off seasons that enable the players mind and body to recuperate and lets the cricket fan recharge his pockets for the next big event

  • loverOfAllForms on May 30, 2009, 15:30 GMT

    I think most of the IPL matches this year went down the wire..Also considering the fact was it was hosted in SA, the crowd turnout was huge.I am a true lover of test cricket..But I should say that I enjoyed 90% of the matches in this IPL.

    [Mike: It depends what you mean by down to the wire. In this year's IPL, the result was in reasonable doubt at the beginning of the last over in only one game in three. That established cricket-lovers enjoy T20 is not the point, though. It's whether those who didn't like cricket before but have tried T20 out will stay with it - and I am pessimistic whether most of them will.]

  • Owen Edwards on May 30, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    Jags, you can't be serious about an off-season. Most of the world gets the English summer off, and go play there if they fancy it. Barring international players, the same is true for English players.

    I absolutely agree with the thrust of this article - for all the merits of T20, are we setting ourselves up for a MASSIVE fall? Yes, yes we are.