Events and people that shaped the game

No. 46

The birth of Twenty20

The game's newest format emerged as a marketing gimmick but the cricket went on to out-glamour everything around it

Andrew Miller

July 24, 2011

Comments: 9 | Text size: A | A

Adam Hollioake lifts the inaugural Twenty20 Cup, Surrey v Warwickshire, Twenty20 Cup final, Trent Bridge, July 19, 2003
Surrey were the champions of the inaugural Twenty20 Cup © Getty Images
Enlarge

2003

At first the Twenty20 Cup was viewed with the sniffiness of a maiden aunt at a shotgun wedding, but as with all the best shindigs, even the fuddy duddies soon found themselves tapping their feet to the beat.

The concept had been dismissed as a gimmick when it was launched in the spring of 2003, and worse than that, a marketing gimmick, for it was Stuart Robertson, the ECB's head of marketing, who was credited with coming up with the plan, ostensibly as a reaction to tumbling county audiences. But even before the first fortnight-long season was done and dusted, it was abundantly clear that a revolution had been spawned in the shires.

The ECB executives at the official launch in Kensington turned up looking hip and trendy (and distinctly uncomfortable) in their open-collared shirts, and this awkward attempt at melding tradition with innovation continued around the grounds, where pop and samba bands, jacuzzis, and speed-dating were just some of the attractions on offer, as brand-new audiences were lured through the turnstiles by whatever means possible.

It didn't take long, however, for the cricket to recapture centre stage - and for all the glitz and glamour of subsequent initiatives such as Stanford and the IPL, that fundamental truth has propelled the format towards the stratosphere.

The inaugural Twenty20 Cup was won by Adam Hollioake's Surrey, who were at the time the finest limited-overs outfit in the land, and whose nine-wicket victory over Warwickshire at Trent Bridge was completed at 9.35pm, at the end of the longest day of cricket ever staged in England.

The star of the show was instructive as well. For all the fears that a 20-over slog would turn bowlers into cannon fodder, it was the medium pace of Jimmy Ormond that trumped the big-hitters. With his line, length and modicum of movement, Ormond was the very antithesis of a glamour-puss, but his match-winning figures of 4-0-11-4 proved from the start that it is a bowler's game after all.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2003

RSS Feeds: Andrew Miller

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (July 26, 2011, 0:35 GMT)

You might be surprised to find that T20 cricket, thanks to our long summer evenings, has been a staple of Scottish club cricket for half a century or more.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 12:06 GMT)

Agreed. T20 cricket was first played intensively in local cricket tournaments in Pakistan--namely North Nazimabad, Karachi. This lead to the discovery of Moin Khan and several other Pakistani greats! The T20 culture is embedded in Pakistan's cricket style therefore we have the best records amongst all the nations in T20s!

Posted by   on (July 25, 2011, 8:53 GMT)

T20 cricket.. Andrew, as someone who might have been to some T20 Finals Day events, have you ever seen queues of spectators outside the ground at 3am as we have had today outside of Lords for the climax of England versus India?

Test cricket all the way. Why settle for three hours of whacking when you can have six hours of tension?

Posted by jr1972 on (July 25, 2011, 0:04 GMT)

The birth of T20, cricket for those who don't like "cricket", the impatient, people with 20 pairs of shoes/sunglasses/handbags, cricket for those who want immediate gratification. A sign of the times unfortunately.

Posted by CollisKing on (July 24, 2011, 21:58 GMT)

Never watched a 20/20 match in my life, nor do I ever intend to. LONG LIVE TEST CRICKET.

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 21:37 GMT)

I think T20 was intruduced way back by Pakistan local tournaments even I participated in 1997 in one of that tournament. So please do not forget this format was well established in Pakistan than other country around and we should give at least this credit to Pakistan.

Posted by AvidFanDownUnder on (July 24, 2011, 11:47 GMT)

Twenty20 might be fun to watch but there is no way I'll ever recall any of the games that took place and key moments - with test cricket you never forget all those moments - T20 might be heavily invested now but unless Test cricket is looked after the game will go to oblivion because it is test cricket that holds the magic of cricket.

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 6:40 GMT)

whatever, i aint tapping my feet to the beat. id rather watch cricket anyday.

Posted by   on (July 24, 2011, 6:30 GMT)

Long live innovation, thinking outside the box, daring to try something new and sticking it to the naysayers and the doubters who prefer the view with their heads buried in the sand!

Comments have now been closed for this article

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Andrew MillerClose
Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007

    In Larwood country

Diary: Our correspondent makes his way from Trent Bridge to Nuncargate to find out more about one of England's most fearsome fast bowlers. By Sidharth Monga

    Pitching it up

How a medical charity convinced the MCC and the Swedes to help spread the message of cricket among kids in Afghanistan

    'I'd run to watch if Gower was playing'

Part six: Martin Crowe on David Gower's footwork and the steely determination beneath his elegance

    A tale of two SSC Tests

In 1993 and 2006, South Africa's bowlers had vastly different results in Colombo. Brett Schultz and Makhaya Ntini look back

The value of a cricketer's brand

Michael Jeh: Andrew Strauss will recover from the indiscreet remark about Kevin Pietersen, but his image won't be entirely as it was

News | Features Last 7 days

Defensive captains' extended test

The duration of the Test series will allow Alastair Cook and MS Dhoni to reassess the strategies, or provide enough time to get thoroughly exposed

India look for their Indian summer

Billboards are calling the series England's Indian Summer, but it is India who are looking for that period of warmth, redemption after the last whitewash, for they have seen how bleak the winter that can follow is

India's bowling leader conundrum

The present Indian bowling line-up will tackle its first five-Test series without the proven guidance of Zaheer Khan, their bowling captain. India had unravelled without him in 2011. Will they do better this time around?

Bevan's best, and a combined Indo-Pak team

A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches

Five key head-to-heads

From two embattled captains to the challenge for India's openers against the new ball, ESPNcricinfo picks five contests that could determine the series

News | Features Last 7 days

    Defensive captains' extended test (118)

    The duration of the Test series will allow Alastair Cook and MS Dhoni to reassess the strategies, or provide enough time to get thoroughly exposed

    India look for their Indian summer (87)

    Billboards are calling the series England's Indian Summer, but it is India who are looking for that period of warmth, redemption after the last whitewash, for they have seen how bleak the winter that can follow is

    India's bowling leader conundrum (44)

    The present Indian bowling line-up will tackle its first five-Test series without the proven guidance of Zaheer Khan, their bowling captain. India had unravelled without him in 2011. Will they do better this time around?

    What spinners should know about bowling in England (35)

    Bide your time, put your body behind each delivery, and play with the batsman's mind

    Five key head-to-heads (33)

    From two embattled captains to the challenge for India's openers against the new ball, ESPNcricinfo picks five contests that could determine the series