Peter Roebuck
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Former captain of Somerset; author of It Never Rains, Sometimes I Forgot to Laugh and other books

The short format's big role

The purists may sneer at it, but Twenty20's most vital role will be in making cricket popular in places where it isn't

Peter Roebuck

June 17, 2009

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

Ireland celebrate after Boyd Rankin strikes in the first over, Ireland v Sri Lanka, ICC World Twenty20, Lord's, June 14, 2009
Twenty20 will earn the game new followers, and thus create more success stories such as Ireland's © AFP
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Twenty-over cricket is working wonders for the game. Forget about the greasy palms displayed by a handful of top players (the world is full of such types, and some of them run entire countries and even cricket boards). Forget also about temporary issues such as fitting the IPL into the programme. (Plain as day, the IPL is more demanding than anyone anticipated and that needs to be taken into account. But it's not to blame for every setback, individual or collective.) Focus instead upon the broader picture, cricket's place in a wider world. To that end, sense the sudden, growing excitement of youngsters glued to television sets in Papua New Guinea, Japan, Sierra Leone, Vanuatu and Afghanistan. Nor were these countries chosen at random. All have risen strongly of late and will be mentioned is this dispatch.

Or join the Europeans as they watch matches on their little boxes. Europe has seven divisions, each containing six teams. Listen with them to commentaries provided in Russian, Greek, Italian, Romanian, Serbian, French, Turkish, German or Polish. If the commentators are occasionally hard pressed to find the mot juste, they can follow in the footsteps of a Xhosa commentator, who, called upon to describe a match to an attentive audience back home and finding no ready translations for silly mid-off or short cover, came up with "under the nose" and "road block." Before long, ABC colleagues were copying him. The game is enriched by these fresh voices and eyes. Twenty-five years ago a Frenchman coaching a lowly team at a Sydney school unknowingly defined bowling figures in terms of runs and balls delivered, a custom that only came to light when an opponent was dismissed for 67, of which Jones was deemed to have taken 5 for 84. Now strike-rates are widespread. Mind you, he did also instruct his charges to use the back of the bat better to fool fieldsmen, a habit that has not caught on.

The success of this 20-over World Cup cannot to be judged only from its effects on the main players and the leading nations. Regardless of its outcome it will help to achieve the wider aim of strengthening the game where it has taken hold, and might even make converts.

Wisely cricket seeks to expand. Otherwise it will forever be contemplating its navel. Spreading the game is vital because the top countries are despairingly vulnerable to conflicts whose origins lie in ancient history. Because the game has only eight truly powerful performers, every row between them, or every internal complication, has an immense impact. Cricket remains at the mercy of forces far beyond its control. All the more reason to seek a more varied list of competitors. Then a few disputes, perhaps even the odd small war, can more easily be absorbed. Precisely because it is universal, soccer is not nearly as affected by the fallings out that inevitably occur between nations.

...Vanuatu took the series, whereupon, following local tradition, the players drove through the centre of town hooting their horns and were cheered by the entire nation, from the mightiest citizen to the meekest inhabitant

In any case cricket is a wonderful game, so why not give as many people as possible a chance to play it properly? Happily the ICC agrees and to that end has invested resources and sent coaches and managers to as many nooks and crannies as money allows. And it is working. Afghanistan's astonishing rise to ODI status has been noted. Ireland's improvement deserves further recognition, and is all the more praiseworthy because, having stopped pinching all their potatoes, the Poms are not sequestering their best batsmen, namely Eoin Morgan and Ed Joyce. For that matter Boyd Rankin's stint at The Oval indicated that sturdy pace bowlers can emerge from the wettest places. Holland is even stronger now than in 1989 when an England A team playing under some forgotten clown contrived to lose to them, a defeat that did attract a certain amount of attention. The aforementioned captain is grateful to Paul Collingwood for finally getting him off the hook. Scotland was rising until the clans started falling out. As PG Wodehouse pointed out, "It's never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine." Still it is time to consider a two-tier Test programme.

These nations have been playing cricket for decades and their progress has been acknowledged. But the game has taken a grip in more far-flung fields. As New Zealand cricketer Bevan Griggs recently discovered, it is running hot in Vanuatu. Writing in the latest edition of the ICC's East-Asia-Pacific magazine, Griggs describes arriving in Port Vila with plenty of enthusiasm but without any high expectations. Nor did the facilities, two artificial nets and a bumpy field, offer much hope. But the passion of the players was another matter. Griggs doubts that a Test team could have prepared for the forthcoming matches with more commitment than his charges. Vanuatu was due to play Fiji and needed a win to take the vital step from affiliate nation to associate member, a rise with considerable financial implications. Vanuatu took the series, whereupon, following local tradition, the players drove through the centre of town hooting their horns (normally an Indian custom) and were cheered by the entire nation, from the mightiest citizen to the meekest inhabitant.

After taking part in the regional qualifying event, Vanuatu also reached the last stages of the Under-19 World Cup, alongside Papua New Guinea, where a new Shield has recently been organised. After the regional Under-19 tournament, a "best on show" team was chosen and it included Raheel Kano, an offspinner from Japan. According to the indefatigable Ben Stinga, several wristspinners also emerged, including Viliame Yabaki from Fiji, Charles Amini Jnr from Papua New Guinea and Joseph Jacobs from Indonesia. The same ICC update announces that a new general manager has been appointed to cover the Cook Islands. Incidentally Japan's national team held its own in Division 7 of the World Cricket League, recently played in Guernsey. Almost all the players are locally born and bred. Alas, one or two of the emerging nations rely on immigrant families, which misses the point. Mind you, to an increasing and long predicted extent, the same can be said about England.

It's easy to scoff but big trees grow from small acorns. Sierra Leone's success in the African section of the Under-19 World Cup was another unforeseen triumph. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Namibia are regarded as the local heavyweights. Kenya fell back due to dubious administration, but seems to be getting back on track. Always the trick is to find leaders willing to serve as opposed to take. Governance remains among cricket's highest challenges. When defeated governments refuse to cede power, and when that refusal is promptly protected by pragmatists at important African institutions, then a mere game can hardly hope to emerge unscathed. And that has happened in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Of course, it is a recipe written by scoundrels.

Papua New Guinea celebrate a wicket, Papua New Guinea v Uganda, World Cricket League, Buenos Aires, January 27, 2009
Papua New Guinea (in picture), Japan, Sierra Leone, Vanuatu and Afghanistan are all getting hooked to the game © ICC/CricketEurope

Tanzania and Uganda seem to be on the right track, with cricket at schools, an academy in place and grounds opening. Much has long been expected from these nations. But Sierra Leone? No one saw them coming. Can anyone confidently place it on a map? And yet its young cricketers have earned the right to mix with the best. Given the right leadership and sincere administration, cricket can succeed even on a continent dominated by soccer and preparing to stage its first football World Cup.

Twenty-over cricket has a huge part to play in this growth. Cricket ought to believe in itself, but it's no use trying to inculcate a love of opera by making all and sundry sit through The Ring. Nor is it any use getting stuffy about Twenty20. As played by the most talented contemporaries, it is a vibrant, tense, condensed version of the game. Think about the boys and girls crowding around their televisions in Papua New Guinea and Uganda. Don't tell them about Neville Cardus or Tich Freeman. Consider what they see. Fast bowlers sending stumps flying or forcing batsmen to duck bumpers (how the one-day game has improved since bumpers were brought back, how the batsmen have been properly tested, how impostors have been exposed). Here is an example to follow. Here was proof that cricket is a game for warriors as well as thinkers.

A few overs later they could observe apparently innocuous slow bowlers casting spells with their disguise and degrees of turn. What fun to see upright players left groping as the keeper niftily removes the bails. Or they can see the ball lifted out of the stadium, or perhaps appreciate a classical drive or delicate cut, or the sight of a pair scampering between the wickets. They might even like the agonising wait as the third umpire studies the evidence. And all in the space of a few hours, with a result guaranteed. At any rate it is enough to fire the imagination. Cricket ought not to turn up its nose at its own sales pitch. Rather it ought to be as excited as these budding players as they try to unravel a puzzle beyond even the best minds.

Except to participants and the more zealous nationalists (a dismal and destructive lot), the outcome of this Twenty20 world cup hardly matters. By thrilling youngsters from many cultures and countries, it is improving cricket's popularity and widening its scope. It is a worthy aim and essential to the game's health. In all its glories and vulgarities, Twenty20, and especially this World Cup, will advance the game in the places where it matters most.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

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Posted by batbard on (June 19, 2009, 1:21 GMT)

T20 is great form of cricket and a way of introducing the game to non-cricket nations. Get rid of 50 overs or reduce the number of 50 over internationals because they're waste of space. T20 is all action but I must admit that T20 and 50 overs are fastfood for a world that has a short attention span. 50 overs is contrived and artiificial as is T20 too a degree but T20 is such a compressed form cricket that allows for the unpredictable to happen within the artiificial constraints of the game.

Posted by dragqueen1 on (June 18, 2009, 19:03 GMT)

v good article with one however monumental flaw in it. PR argues T20 can be used to help cricket expand. the problem is cricket doesn't want to. there is not so much a glass as a diamond ceiling in this sport & once the likes of Afganistan & Uganda realise no matter how good they are they won't be allowed to sit equally at the same table as the elite few intreast will wane and they will fade away. this will then be used as it has always been as a reason not to expand the game.

Posted by atuljain1969 on (June 18, 2009, 13:42 GMT)

For me and many of others, progression of T20 is natural phenonmenon. You will ask why, simple, answer me a question. Have any of you played a 5 day or for that matter a full day match from age 10 to 15. My bet is that answer would be big "NO". The answer would be , that we have played a match of 10/15/20 or maximum 25 overs a side match most of the times.

If this is the real scenario, then how come one should come to a conclusion that Test Cricket is the real cricket. I say that T20 is the real cricket, played by all and sundry since the time they start playing cricket for the first time.

Like in many other fields we are made to believe that Test cricket is the real cricket, which I may say is not true.

So please start celebrating the truth of life rather then loosing sleep over a non issue.

Atul Jain

Posted by immortalpop on (June 18, 2009, 12:30 GMT)

"If the snobby, Test - loving traditionalists get in the way, cricket will slowly decline, even in the current Full Member countries."

Irishfan 'cricket' is already in decline at a rate which is escalating faster than anyone imagined. What hope have us 'snobs' got if TV generated revenue is the only motivating factor behind the so called promotion of cricket world wide. We've all seen what effect the Stanford approach had on developing the sport at all levels at grass roots level. The consortiums don't care an neither do the governing bodies. I'm just fortunate to have seen enought cricket in my life to keep a treasure of memories. This Ashes series will be the last of any consequence or interest.

Posted by AdityaMookerjee on (June 18, 2009, 12:25 GMT)

T20 cricket is pure entertainment, because the international cricketer has not figured out, how to play fate in a game of cricket. I believe, that T20 is completely unpredictable, hence, it's great value in entertainment. I only care for the international tournaments. The tenure of the T20 game is so short, that there is a great dilemma in the mind of the batsman, whatever the position the scoreboard exhibits. Chris Gayle when he bats like a demigod, does not have the time to think, about batting. I don't know what he thinks about, when he bats. If he does think, the next delivery, may bring his thinking to an end. It has been proved, that the bowler has a better chance in T20 matches, than he does in Test Matches, or One Day Internationals.

Posted by Irishfan on (June 18, 2009, 10:23 GMT)

Good article Peter ( nice dig at yourself in there as well!). I think cricket definitely has to grow, with T20 format, and sooner than later. I think many young people, even in cricketing countries like India and Australia, might lose interest in a "global" sport contested by only a handful of teams, and turn to sports like football and basketball with global spread. It already happend in England, where they needed T20 silver bullet to revive cricket. I will hope in the next 10 - 20 years to see a T20 championship hosted in a country like US or China, with 20 or so teams competitively challenging for the title. If the snobby, Test - loving traditionalists get in the way, cricket will slowly decline, even in the current Full Member countries.

Posted by 456454 on (June 18, 2009, 10:00 GMT)

Its all well and good that the ICC should consider to make t20 cricket a vehicle for actively spreading cricket to new territories but it isn't. there is more to spreading the game than televising it it new places (see american football) and then having a handful of expatriates from traditional cricket nations take it up in these new countries.

Also its got to be recognised that for a country to fully mature as a cricket nation it has to develop structures to play all three formats of the game,as t20 is the easiest to faccilitate that is why it is the best first port of call when strting cricket as a new sport in a country.

Finally time should hardly be a problem in introducing First Class cricket/and eventually test cricket, it certainly is not a problem for golf (a 4 day tournament) which has spread all over the world without even having to formulate any new 'time convinient' formats

Posted by vulpecula on (June 18, 2009, 9:58 GMT)

This pub league rubbish is the death knell for test cricket in much the same way that domestic 1 day tripe killed county cricket. It isn't even cricket for goodness sake. look at it - one team in red the other in blue, white ball, played at night under lights and half the crowd drunk - it's football !! I was hoping that this garbage would have fizzled out by now, but sadly it isn't likely to as long as the media keep ramming it down our throats. The England test team will end up like the British Lions rugby team - touring one every 4 years or so. R.I.P. cricket

Posted by immortalpop on (June 18, 2009, 9:15 GMT)

For a start, apart from the desire to produce revenue why does the game have to expand any more? Millions of people across Europe are devoted to say, curling, often seen by non-fans as a quaint peculiarity, yet there is no commercial push to promote it beyond its circle of followers. Let cricket be and stop suggesting that nations which have never had any cultural connection to the game need to develop it as a sport. But there is a basic flaw in the idea that pushing 20/20 will create popularity in cricket where it never existed. What it may do is create interest in 20/20 but how can people who have no knowledge of the longer forms be suddently enticed to want to learn about it? 20/20 is a tinselled by-product which has nothing really to do with the skills required to play and the insight necessary to follow test matches. Just take a look at the new format of this site to see where the sport is headed.

Posted by Shan--IND on (June 18, 2009, 6:10 GMT)

Test: Top 9 play Tests 1 qualifier from IC gets status every 2 yrs

ODI: Top 16 play intl ODIs Top 14 qualify for ODIs WC every 4 yrs

T20: Top 20 play intl T20s Top 16 qualify for T20 WC every 2 yrs

(Test status comes with auto-ODI & T20 staus) (But for others: ODI status & T20 status r not inter-dependant) _________

TEST cricket from 2013:

- Top 9 nations hav Test status & play in Test league over 4 yrs (Each nation play 16 series(8x2) over the 4 yrs)

- IC champions get Test status for 2 yrs (effectively become 10th Test nation) (Each yr they will be scheduled to play 6 Tests, all at home) (3 Full Test nations will tour to their nation to play 2 match-Test series each) (This matches r outside the Test league & doesnt effect it) (At the end of 2 yrs, they play the next IC champions in a 3 5-day match series, with winners earning the Test status for the next 2 yrs)

If the quality of Tests increase, then one more nation becomes permanent & still IC champs get 2-yr temp status

Posted by Foddy on (June 18, 2009, 6:02 GMT)

I would much appreciate Peter Roebuck kindly advising to which TV channel viewers in Japan are tuning in, so that I can do likewise. To the best of my knowledge, cricket is not televised in Japan (nor is it likely to be in the foreseeable future!).

We have to make do with the internet, or visiting the very few pubs or Sports Bars which have a (quite possibly illegal) satellite connection.

Posted by Venkat_The_Wake on (June 18, 2009, 4:07 GMT)

I think the popularity of T20 is in keeping with the times. If seen in the proper perspective, the evolution of the five day game from the timeless tests as well the one day from tests is a testament to a world speeding up in every sense. I would say that the invention of T20 was no fluke, its a direct result of a certain sense that something faster was necessary to keep and grow interest in the game and truly reflect the pace of the world.

Posted by krazzyking on (June 18, 2009, 2:53 GMT)

Cricket should follow a hierarchy. from the gullies (mainy f5) to t20 then to ODI n then the pinnacle, Tests. But i guess there should be a different set of rules for each. Not highly varying but just a little different. For example, the freehit should belong exclusively to T20 and Mankad in ODI. Test cricket shouldnt stage. Recent talk of Day Nighters arent very inspiring. Lets wait and watch anyway

Posted by LillianThomson on (June 18, 2009, 2:36 GMT)

Splendid work Peter, don't let the facts get in the way......

Vanuatu's television comes from Paris via New Caledonia - no T20 whatsoever on offer there. Meanwhile Papua New Guinea's EMTV used to have all of Nine Australia's cricket - but now has none whatsoever. And how does anyone receive T20 coverage in Afghanistan?

The cold hard truth is that T20 has yet to get anyone new playing the game. A few more people may watch for non-cricketing reasons (although IPL coverage in Australia recently broke every "lowest viewing" record available).

Have you considered that Afghanistan shares Pakistan's heritage and was always going to be a cricket market? Or that the Pacific nations have been playing cricket for years - more people play kilikiti in Samoa than rugby!

And lastly, Ireland's success owes everything to generations of TV coverage from the BBC and Sky, and shouldn't they have higher status with the ICC than their inferior Bangladesh and Zimbabwe colleagues?

Posted by lyra_silvertongue on (June 18, 2009, 1:07 GMT)

>but it's no use trying to inculcate a love of opera by making all and sundry sit through The Ring.

bravo, in years to come scribes will be quoting Roebuck as freely as they currently do for PG Wodehouse

Posted by KiwiPom on (June 18, 2009, 0:10 GMT)

T20 doesn't drag everyone down to the same level. This latest tournament has shown that the best players still rise to the top. Even so I think the idea of 5 bowlers is simply lifted from the 50 over game. To give the better bowlers a bit more of an advantage I'd like to see a trial of 2 bowlers can bowl 6 overs each and other bowlers a maximum of 4. All-in-all though if T20 sees the eventual demise of the 50 over game I for one will let out a rip-roaring cheer.

Posted by ChrisH on (June 17, 2009, 21:26 GMT)

tfjones1978, those are some interesting ideas. Given how SAf mauled Scotland though, I'm surprised more people aren't calling for tiers in T20 cricket. Oh, and "promotion-relegation" is not an automatic feature of a tier system. The only thing that makes a tier system a "tier system" is having two or more groups with one group being ranked above another. Most sports in Australia and the US have different divisions/grades without any promotion or relegation and they are still tiers. The intercontinental cup is the second tier of international first-class cricket and come 2009-10 there will be a third tier in the form of the Intercontinental Shield. You are right that the media "don't consider [IC as] real matches without "Test" status...." Likewise the media won't consider any 2nd division test cricket as being "real test cricket". Forget about test cricket, it won't expand since none of the leading associates are serious about domestic multiday cricket anyway, T20 is the future.

Posted by nahid1024 on (June 17, 2009, 19:16 GMT)

Great article Peter! Being a traditionalist I love tests and ODIs. However I strongly believe that T20 will help evolve the game all across the world! T20 will definitely globalize the game particularly in Africa and Asia.

I think it is time that ICC removes the "glass ceiling" for the better Associate teams namely Ireland and give them test status. I also think they need to be more active and help Kenya back on track. Kenya was next in line until internal politics ruined the game there. Ireland, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are almost at the same skill level.

It will be great if a few more Associate and Afganistan are promoted to the test level in the next decade. However a two tiered test division will not fly. I would rather suggest that the lower rank teams get to player fewer tests with the elite teams and more amongst themselves than have a hardline engraved two tier system in place. A hardline two tier approach will just create acrimonious relations between countries and ICC.

Posted by TheBobfather on (June 17, 2009, 17:02 GMT)

A wonderful article from one of my favourite cricket writers. I love T20, but test cricket still has my heart. But, like SJW.London, I fail to see why we need the 50 over game any more. It isn't short enough to be exciting or long enough to be interesting.

Posted by tombaan on (June 17, 2009, 16:30 GMT)


I agree with your thoughts. In a fast changing world some of us are the last generation that will sit through a five day game...if T20 helps the game have 10% reach of soccer what is bad with that?

T20 is something which can work is USA is worth trying...after all US had a history of cricket and it is a far superior game to baseball

Posted by tfjones1978 on (June 17, 2009, 16:26 GMT)

With 10 Full, 34 Associate & 57 Affiliate members, ICC should expand the game for T20, ODI & Test Cricket.

T20: 3 Tier system played each year over 10 weeks: * Affiliate Cup(42-101): 12 groups of 5 => 4 groups of 3 => Semis & final. * Associate Cup(11-46): 6 groups of 6 => 2 groups of 3 => Final. * World T20 Cup(1-14): 2 groups of 7 => Semis & final.

ODI: 10 Divisions of 12 (2x6, semis & final) with winner & runner up going to higher division & bottom two dropping down. WCL 1 continual over 2 years, WCL2-4 3 week comp every 2 years and WCL5-10 3 week comp every 4 years.

TEST&INTERCONTENTAL CUP: Expand Tests by 2 & IC by 2 every 4 years. 2 tiers of 6, then 2 tiers of 7, 2 tiers of 8, then 3 tiers of 6, etc, with the bottom team every 4 years dropping to the lower tier to be replaced by top 2 teams from below.

Also, IC is NOT a lower tier as there is NO relegation system, IC is counted as 1st Class matchs & media dont consider them real matches without "Test" status.

Posted by Muqs on (June 17, 2009, 12:59 GMT)

The time has come when ICC need to realize the power of t20 as a weapon to globalize the game and take some steps to use it for globalizing cricket.At first they must reduce international schedule(FTP) down to 7-8 months and allow 3.5 month window for lucrative leagues.Its time to shut down the ICC champions trophy,and held worldT20 every year.Since we already have the main world cup in ODI format then its unnecessary to organize ICC champ trophy.The number teams participating in worldT20 must be gradually increased to 20,it means a worldt20 qualifier with as many as 30 teams must be held and 10 will qualify.The worldT20 must be held on September. More exposure the minnow will get in international t20s more the game will become popular and the supply of players available will be more to many lucrative leagues that are likely to start in future such as EnglishProT20 and southern premier league.If minnow countries can generate a few T20 stars then 4 teams wont require symonds at a time.

Posted by Tigrillo on (June 17, 2009, 12:47 GMT)

How I would love to see this happen. Here in Denmark we can't even find a satellite channel showing cricket so the only way is to go the internet way or find one of the very few English pubs that have friends or family in the UK that have bought them a Sky box for them.

And I do think it's possible - even though Denmark played (and came last) at the top associate tournament in SA a few weeks ago it barely got mentionend in the media here. This weekend I took a couple of friends from here to see two super 8 matches at the Oval and at least one of them got so hooked that the pubs we went to the next days had to show cricket. He's even discussing the fairness of the D/L method now!!

Posted by Clyde on (June 17, 2009, 12:39 GMT)

Call it T20 or whatever, cricket is one of life's basics, and the only thing I can see wrong with T20 is the artificial restriction on field placings and being called wide for going slightly down leg. In shearing-shed cricket you are forced to, as opposed to whimsical for, peculiar rules. You're out if you hit it into a bin, down a chute or into the woolsack hung at slip. Your getting six for a straight drive to the engine end was acccording to Peter May's Book of Cricket. Four in the cover region, and below the mouths of the bins, was in homage to Colin Cowdrey. The drive or other shot to leg that did not go down the chutes was one, and left you short of a good on drive in the senior ranks. Tampering with the ball was compulsory: if you didn't augur a hole in it with a penknife and squeeze it frequently it bounced over the two five-gallon drums. There was only one fielding position, short mid-off, or short cover as well at Christmas.

Posted by SJW.London on (June 17, 2009, 11:30 GMT)

Good article. Usual Roebuck thoughfulness. Count me surprised to find myself a Twenty20 convert.

T20 scores prove that cricket is really about the value of each wicket.

But what is the unique selling point of the 50-over game now? It sits awkwardly between the long and short forms. T20 is a major threat to the 50-over game, not to Test cricket.

Test and 1st class cricket will easily hold its place as the connoisseurs' game, the supreme test of talent and temperament. Unlike McTwenty20, it has Michelin stars.

The ICC needs to think cleverly about how it targets these different markets, and how it graduates new converts from one to the other. Not everyone wants to eat McDonalds all their life. They can also be creative about the commercial model.

The test cricket brand -- let's call it 20 wicket cricket -- can now be marketed more easily as a pure, exclusive, rarified product. It's Jaguar/Range Rover to T20's Tata Nano. (Or perhaps an Acura RL to T20s Honda Hero scooter).

Posted by pradeep_dealwis on (June 17, 2009, 10:37 GMT)

yes, interesting article abt the two t20 and its effect on the "outer world"....i'd certainly like to read more about how the game is spread in other countries.

Posted by BaselBob on (June 17, 2009, 8:46 GMT)

I have been pleasantly surprised by the reception given to the T20 cup here in Switzerland. What started as a few ex-pats watching the games in the local pub, has expanded to a large group of locals who even, contrary to the local gaming laws, are now wagering on total scores, the number of overs/balls to secure victory, and so on. What used to be a tortuous task of explaining the basic rules (in German) can now be left to the local afficianados!

Posted by 9ST9 on (June 17, 2009, 6:34 GMT)

Excellent article .... and by the way "n 1989 when an England A team playing under some forgotten clown contrived to lose to them," ha ha that refers to Mr.Roebuck himself

Posted by ChrisH on (June 17, 2009, 5:06 GMT)

A slightly strange article by Roebuck. It seems to be about how T20 is already making cricket popular as opposed to the longer forms of the game. So where does that sentence about two tier test cricket come in? It was almost like it was tacked on at the end of a paragraph when the realisation came about that an entire article might well be written without referring to the idea of tiered test cricket (and therefore indirectly referring to Zimbabwe & Bangladesh).

Not sure why two tier test cricket seems to be such a magic mantra for journalists. It certainly won't make the game more popular. They already basically have it anyway - it's called the Intercontinental Cup. Although since the ICC could never pay anyone enough to pick up the broadcast rights then it should come as no surprise that journalists overlook it...just as the media in general would overlook a second tier of test cricket.

Maybe they should have 3-tier T20 int'ls

Fairly good article otherwise though (thumbs up)

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Peter RoebuckClose
Peter Roebuck He may not have played Test cricket for England, but Peter Roebuck represented Somerset with distinction, making over 1000 runs nine times in 12 seasons, and captaining the county during a tempestuous period in the 1980s. Roebuck acquired recognition all over the cricket world for his distinctive, perceptive, independent writing. Widely travelled, he divided his time between Australia and South Africa. He died in November 2011

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