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2007 in review: Twenty20 cricket and its impact
'Fifty-over cricket breeds mediocrity'
December 25, 2007
Cricinfo's panel of experts looks at Twenty20 and its impact on the 50-over game
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Sanjay Manjrekar: 'There's something about Twenty20 cricket that gets the fancy of people' © Getty Images

Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to the year-end special on Cricinfo Talk, where we've asked our panel of experts to look back on the year 2007 and analyse the trends that could shape 2008.

In this, the first part, I asked our experts whether the overwhelming success of the World Twenty20 held in South Africa meant that Twenty20 cricket was pushing one-day cricket to the fringe. Let's begin with what former West Indian fast bowler Michael Holding had to say.

Michael Holding: No I don't think so. I would say that the Twenty20 tournament in South Africa, because it was a shorter tournament, was better organised. It was less hectic for people who wanted to watch it. There were lesser venues for them to travel to, and of course, this format being such a short game is more attractive to people who have less time to spend watching cricket. It certainly attracted a lot of people, it was very entertaining; but I don't think that it will take over from the 50-over version. I think the fact that it was the first ever Twenty20 tournament, the fact that it was new, would have had something to do with the number of people it attracted.

AR: David Lloyd has always been an ardent supporter of the Twenty20 format and here are his views.

David Lloyd: Well, something that has already been talked about is the success of the [World] Twenty20. I was there and I loved every minute of it. The great thing about Twenty20 is that while it's serious, it's not that serious, and it doesn't matter too much. It really is something for the spectators, and they're telling us that this is what they want to see. The grounds are packed and television-viewing audiences are very high.

So what impact does this have on one-day cricket? I think before Twenty20, the ICC was conscious that there was a period in one-day cricket from the 20th over to the 45th over, where not a lot was happening other than a few singles. Since then they were tinkering with the idea of making that more interesting for the spectators. What we find on the domestic circuit in England is that there's not much interest in domestic Twenty20, but international Twenty20 seems to be fine. So now we've got three products. We've got the pinnacle, which is Test cricket. We've got the one-day competition, which incorporates the World Cup - which needs to be a better competition, with just the best teams playing. And then you've got Twenty20, which is the new kid, and it sits brashly with the other two. My own view is that we should have all three, but the one-day internationals need to be more interesting.

The thing that's happened in Australia - something that I really like - is that on their domestic circuit, one of the Powerplays belongs to the batting side. I think the rest of the world will soon follow this, because it makes the game more interesting.

AR: The Australian team didn't seem to think much of Twenty20, but let's hear what Ian Chappell has to say.

Ian Chappell: I think Twenty20 should be used to globalise the game and then the World Cup [for one-day internationals] could be returned to what it used to be - an elite tournament with a maximum of ten teams. That way you can finish the World Cup in no more than a month because the tournament doesn't need to be longer than that. You can then make the Champions Trophy a six-team tournament with qualification via points gained from each one-day international series that is played around the world. That way all the one-day tournaments would be meaningful. You then play fewer matches, but by making those games more meaningful, I think you're able to sell the properties for a sum that will enable the game to remain strong financially. I think if that sort of planning went into the future of the two forms of one-day cricket, then they both can co-exist quite successfully. But I don't have any confidence that such planning is going to happen.

AR: India on the other hand could possibly be in favour of the Twenty20 format, having won the inaugural World Twenty20. Let's hear what Sanjay Manjrekar has to say.

Sanjay Manjrekar: I'll not be complaining, because I'm a big fan of Twenty20. I'd seen one [Twenty20 game] earlier in Pakistan, which was part of a domestic championship. The crowd response was unbelievable: the Gaddafi Stadium was filled to see a domestic competition. It went to the extent that there were people sitting on the rooftops to watch the game. The Gaddafi Stadium has never had that kind of a crowd. Entry was free, and obviously that helped, but I think Twenty20 just somehow gets the fancy of people.

I think Twenty20 should be used to globalise the game and then the World Cup [for one-day internationals] could then be returned to what it used to be - an elite tournament with a maximum of ten teams Ian Chappell

My next introduction to Twenty20 was at the World Twenty20 and I was able to analyse this game a little more there. I won't go into too many details but what I realised was that if there is only Test cricket and Twenty20 cricket ten or 15 years from now, I will not complain. The more I watch 50-over cricket, the more I feel that it's a brand that breeds mediocrity. I know it's a harsh statement but this is what I feel. There is no pretence with Twenty20 cricket. It's a game for big hitters and for bowlers who can stop the batsmen from hitting those big shots.

Test cricket is, of course, the ultimate test of a cricketer. So if there is cricketer in the future who excels at Test cricket as well as Twenty20 cricket, he is a great cricketer for me. The ICC, however, is going to find it difficult to dismiss 50-over cricket completely, because it gives us a World Cup every four years, which is one of our greatest sporting events.

AR: And finally, Tony Greig has always been in favour of Twenty20, as he is an integral part of the Indian Cricket League in India. Here are his views.

Tony Greig: Well, that's a very interesting question and I don't think we'll know the answer to it for a few years yet. There is no doubt in my mind that Twenty20 will put pressure on the 50-over format. I think that the one-day format in its current form, everybody agrees I think, has a bit of a problem in the middle - it gets a bit slack. That being the case, I think there is a move to try and rectify that. Now it depends on how successful they are at rectifying that as to how effective Twenty20 will be.

Also, it's worth bearing in mind that cricket boards - I think, at the instructions of the ICC - have decided to keep a lid on how many Twenty20 matches are played. That in itself is a bit of a worry because just recently the television ratings for the Twenty20 match in South Africa - the South Africa versus New Zealand match - were absolutely through the roof. That gives everyone an indication of the popularity of the game, and therefore I think that cricket will be pushed very hard by its bread and butter - basically, television - to see to it that Twenty20 is given a bit more exposure.

Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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