ICC World Twenty20 May 16, 2010

More Twenty20 games please

Australia, England or Pakistan - three editions in four years and we still cannot be a 100% sure about which team rules the roost in this format

So, which is the best Twenty20 side in the world? Didn't last night's game pretty much answer that question? Ironically though, I'd still be wary of putting my money on the winner. Isn't Twenty20 cricket all about a given day and not so much about a particular team? Success and failure is anyone's call. Which teams will have a field day can hardly ever be determined on the basis of the playing XI. Hence, both Australia and England should be kept on the same pedestal for their brilliant showing in the tournament.

But how can we possibly throw Pakistan out of the race? Runners-up in 2007, winners in 2009 and semi-finalists in this edition, Pakistan have proved to be one of the most consistent sides in a format where inconsistency is the only consistent thing. If you don't believe me, ask our Men in Blue. Australia, England or Pakistan - three editions in four years and we still cannot be 100% sure about which team rules the roost in this format. Is it the nature of this format or is there more to it?

Before going into the reasons, here are a few statistics to lay the ground for my argument. India, for instance, play no less than 30 ODIs and more than four to five Tests in any given year. The more the number of matches, the more it helps a player hone his skill and become a specialist. On the contrary, the ICC has put a cap of seven [international] Twenty20 matches a country can play in a year, barring the World Cup. Oddly enough, the reason for this cap is to discourage teams from taking Twenty20 too seriously and hence safeguard the 50-overs format.

Well, if that be the case then how does one explain three World Twenty20s in four years? On the one hand, the ICC prohibits teams from playing more matches and on the other hand, expects them to compete at the highest level almost every alternate year. Isn't it ironical?

Australia was the best side in the world for over a decade not just because they won three World Cups in the interim but for their consistency over a period of time. We could gauge their quality because they won against all oppositions, both home and away. But is there a similar platform when it comes to Twenty20 cricket? The answer is a resounding no.

It isn't a secret that the more you play, the better you become. If the teams play more Twenty20 cricket, they'd identify Twenty20 specialists at the highest level and not in club or franchise-based domestic tournaments. A player might be devastating, batting at No. 4 for his franchise, but might prove a dud at No. 7 in international cricket. These players would then have specific roles assigned to them on the basis of their expertise. Eventually they'd start working like a well-oiled unit, quite similar to how most teams operate in the other two formats.

No longer do we pick the best Test players for 50-over cricket automatically. Then why are we still picking our best ODI players to double up as Twenty20 players? The reason is pretty straight forward - we are still in the phase of trial and error.

It's about time the ICC either takes this format seriously and allows teams to play more games or leaves it - with the exception of the World Twenty20 - for just the clubs to compete. For seven matches in a year is neither here nor there.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on May 20, 2010, 7:11 GMT

    @neeraj - I completely agree with you that "T20 should be played at franchise level". See my posts on Aakash's previous blog. But I have to disagree with you that "T20 WC should be played between country's for every 2 years" because I believe we should not even have a T20 WC! If we do as you say and have no other international T20 matches b/w countries, then what's the point of getting together 11 players who never play T20 together as a team to represent your country in a WC every 2 years? At best it would be a completly luck-based comical affair. No, what everyone needs to realize is that there are no half measures here! T20 at club/franchise level, and Test at international level. AND if 50-over ODI doesn't show improvement in entertainment/competitive factor KILL IT!

  • testli5504537 on May 20, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    Aakash, I think you're warming up to my comment on your previous blog where I argued that T20 should be played at the club level and not international level. What I said was "I think you missed the most important point comparing IPL and T20 WC: that T20 is not meant to be played at an international level but rather at a club level. This allows for parity in sides and a more interesting tournament from Game 1 to the Final." I also pointed out that the only reasonable and possible solution to the timing and television rights issue is to "play T20 at a club level and not international level. Thus no timing and television rights issues will pop up!". And finally I felt that "A T20 WC is so stupid but the insipid ICC still insist on doing one because they're afraid to loose even a bit of control over Cricket." But I noticed you hedged you bets in the last paragraph. Well here's hoping you change that last bit too :)

  • testli5504537 on May 19, 2010, 4:23 GMT

    T20 cricket should ne played as little as possible. Test matches should be given the utmost importance as that is the true measure of a cricketers skills. T20 relies solely on luck

  • testli5504537 on May 18, 2010, 23:20 GMT

    Pakistan have been very lucky to qualify in last two editions of T20 World Cup. Last year, both good teams Aus and Ind got kicked out early. Both teams generally play real good once they get into semi-final and finals. Even in this edition, Pakistan only won decent game against South Africa and they qualified for Semi-final. So I would say inconsisteny is still the main factor in T20. I can see Aus will somehow again start dominating this format once it plays enough games.

  • testli5504537 on May 18, 2010, 22:46 GMT

    i believe the cure for this is a bit simpler...increase it to about 8-10 games per year and widen the gap of the world cups to say 3 years. this would keep everything in balance seeing as there is the ipl and the champions league every year so there is still a good set of T20 going on

  • testli5504537 on May 18, 2010, 17:01 GMT

    Twenty20 Cricket should only be played in a Tournament format. Bilateral Twenty20 series have the potential to be the most boring thing possible- the format is ideally suited to fit more games into short periods of time for a tournament. If you want more 20/20, invite the Asian Bloc of nations and play a twice-yearly championship, it will only improve India's oversaturation of Limited overs Cricket.

  • testli5504537 on May 18, 2010, 15:52 GMT

    Thats writght. I wants i c c to organaside CLT20.so that all countries club can participate.

  • testli5504537 on May 18, 2010, 9:30 GMT

    Dear All, Why can't we see that ICC is only trying to save boring 50 Overs game becuase it brings more money as advertisers pay more for 50 overs game then 20 overs. I am a big fan of 20 overs cricket as it is short, compact and thrilling. Test Cricket really tests abilities of individual players as well as teams. For pure cricket purposes I support Test Matches and for entertainment's sake, there is no match of 20 Overs Cricket. Please support Test Cricket and 20 Overs cricket. Thanks

  • testli5504537 on May 18, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    T20 is NOT real cricket! For the love of God when will administrators realise that shortening the game does not make it interesting!! Golf has not changed their rules in decades, and yet millions still line up to watch it!

    Make the game exciting!!! put the life back into the pitches! Give the bowlers something! More 6s is not more excitement!! We want to see contests, we want strategy!!

    Keep T20 at the domestic level, replace the boring Champions Trophy with a World T20, but THATS IT. IPL is more than enough exposure. Yes it teaches players about pressure, and its helped increase the average strike rate of many players, but the format is far too dependent on luck to be considered a serious format at the top level.

    Add more flavour to the ODIs and Tests, with good pitches, fast, bouncy, turn friendly wickets, and more bowlers will rise. Its the Bowlers who win matches, not the batsmen, always remember that!

    A national cap should be more pride than IPL; which is a monkey circus.

  • testli5504537 on May 18, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    T20 is a great format. However, I miss the charm of Test Cricket, the mid day breaks, tea time, lunch etc. As for India's performance, RS get back to work!

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