October 5, 2011

More meaningful T20, please

The shortest format is cricket at its most elemental and daring, and we need more of it - but only those games where people can be bothered to care about who wins
34

As September wound down, batsmen held a silent requiem for the runner, bowlers didn't quite know whether to rejoice or despair at the prospect of having two new balls per ODI, and many of us were left wondering how on earth the captains were going to remember the latest Powerplay regulations without an almighty cock-up or two. And still the latest golden goose hogged the headlines - and for all the worst reasons. Which is a great pity, because the Champions League, wherein teams have demonstrated a heartening ability to defend pitiful totals, has actually been tremendous fun.

All the warts of the new world order have surfaced over the past fortnight. Hit by injuries to several of their home-based players before the Champions League, Mumbai Indians, astonishingly, were granted permission to field a fifth import. AB de Villiers did what can fairly be termed "a Sehwag" - a broken finger suffered during fielding practice for Royal Challengers Bangalore is likely to sideline him for up to six weeks, ruling him out of his first series as captain of his country's limited-overs sides. Tim May, the increasingly irritated and animated chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations, revealed that Simon Katich and Ramnaresh Sarwan were two of "a number" of players who remained unpaid for services rendered in IPL 3, fully 18 months ago. And Geoffrey Boycott declared T20 to be cricket's answer to baseball - and not in a nice way.

All these episodes induced dismay. That those mouth-watering clashes between Australia and South Africa will be diluted is bad enough; that it stemmed from a fielding drill on behalf of de Villiers' Indian employers was yet another dismissive slap in the face for the international game. That the Champions League rules were broken for one of the home sides was almost as crass as the claim by the governing council (could its members be more self-aggrandising?) that this would "ensure the integrity of the tournament". To point out even one of the myriad ways this insults our intelligence would be to dignify it, so I won't. Suffice to say that Suryakumar Yadav, whose "injury" prompted the technical committee's decision, was well enough to hit an unbeaten 182 in an Under-22 tournament in Mumbai last Thursday.

The IPL fracas, meanwhile, is simply unconscionable. The main justification for the changing balance between club and country is that the players should be free to optimise the value of their talent; you know matters have gone seriously awry when the organisers treat contractual agreements with even less respect than Virender Sehwag pays Pakistani bowlers. In March, May called for a boycott of the Champions League because $6m of last year's prize fund had yet to be paid; in August, after the cheques had finally arrived - less 20% Indian government tax - the ECB insisted that this year's county representatives, Somerset and Leicestershire, receive the money to cover their costs from the BCCI before being allowed to participate.

Then again, how can those governing councilors and board officials not be emboldened when, as Suresh Menon recently noted, the BCCI so plainly sees an Indian players' association less as a valued partner than as the avowed enemy, "a trade union bent on reducing the employers' right to make money without distributing it fairly".

May claims to have repeatedly asked the BCCI and IPL to make good their debts; since he denies having received a reply, we can only surmise that he believes he is being ignored, which says rather too much - albeit nothing unexpected - about the way those entrusted with running our precious game, purportedly for the good of all, regard those whose sweat and talent are responsible for lining their blazer pockets. Cue the killer payoff: "We trust with the recent appointment of Mr N Srinivasan as President of the BCCI, and the appointment of Mr Rajiv Shukla as Chairman of IPL, that these two gentlemen will ensure BCCI will address these payments as a matter of urgency." Note the shrewd use of "gentlemen".

BY COMPARISON, BOYCOTT'S CONTENTION that T20 requires "lesser skill" was a minor irritant, though no less objectionable for that. To demean both cricket's biggest draw card and baseball in the same podcast was the work of a double-barrelled blunderbuss, more reliant on cliché than comprehension. And I'm not saying that solely because I'm still on a bit of a high from last Wednesday, which brought not only the single most thrilling night in Major League Baseball history, but the most fabulous passage of televisual sporting action I have ever beheld: four games to decide which of four clubs would snare the two remaining playoff spots. The upshot: a host of rollercoaster plots and heroic comebacks, capped by a heart-halting string of epic climaxes that defied most of the laws of sporting probabability - all in the space of 25 minutes. Better yet, with the Tampa Bay Rays overhauling the Boston Red Sox, the Poor Guys progressed at the expense of the Rich Kids, a distinctly un-American scenario and one with which cricket is even more unfamiliar.

To equate the skill levels of baseball with those required in T20 is not unreasonable, but only when those skills are fully and properly appreciated. The key to loving baseball is not to endorse the awful "Chicks dig the long ball" slogan of the steroid era but to wallow in the scarcity of runs, to realise that even singles are a journey. The best Major League pitchers almost invariably master at least four different deliveries; the athleticism of shortstops and outfielders, gloves notwithstanding, regularly takes the breath away; running between the bases is both art and science; and making fruitful contact with a small ball moving at 90mph while armed with a tapering tubular blade is widely reckoned to be sport's single trickiest art (even the best hitters collect ducks 60% of the time).

To equate the skill levels of baseball with those required in T20 is not unreasonable, but only when those skills are fully and properly appreciated. The key to loving baseball is not to endorse the awful "Chicks dig the long ball" slogan of the steroid era but to wallow in the scarcity of runs, to realise that even singles are a journey

Boycott's main thrust, that pitchers and T20 bowlers both have essentially defensive functions, is well made but misleading. They are the sentiments one might expect of a former batsman. The fielding team in baseball is indeed known as the "defense" but, again, this is deceptive. Just as pitchers aim to bamboozle batters and hence force them into error, so the pie-chuckers look to confound and outwit: whether the upshot is fewer runs or more wickets/outs it takes the same skill, the same often wondrous skill, to execute their job. And unlike their counterparts, the bowlers are handcuffed by fielding restrictions.

By very dint of its brevity, T20 requires more speed, efficiency and imagination, of thought and deed, than either its father or grandfather. It encourages the development of new shots and deliveries, places huge demands on fielders and captains. Here is cricket at its most elemental, daring and draining. Here is cricket concentrated. So long as we balance it with the broader palette of T450, it should be treasured, both in its own right and as a passport to more aesthetic pleasures. The downside is the way it is run, as a headlong pursuit of diminishing dollars that pays no heed to tomorrow.

Avarice aside, T20's main obstacle remains its franchise incarnations and the havoc this wreaks with all those crusty old notions about the essential virtues of team sport. For me the international flavour of the Champions League, with its islands, states, provinces and counties all vying for the prize, elevates it far above the IPL, however diminished it has possibly been by South Africa's switch from provinces to franchises. In the IPL, support is widely determined by the team for whom a favoured player plays; the emphasis is squarely on the individual. That hoary old line about there being no "I' in "team" is a cliché for good reason. Besides, judging by the way camera-savvy spectators are forever being shown hollering or shrieking or mouthing messages to mum, the passion in the stadiums seems to be chiefly for the benefit of the viewer. It's all part of the act. Everyone's in on the sell.

As a consequence, the actual result appears to lag way down the list of priorities, judging by the apparent lack of hand-wringing over the locals' indifferent showing in the tournament to date (as of Tuesday morning Manvinder Bisla was the only homegrown batsman with 100 runs, while R Ashwin, the highest-ranked home bowler in economy terms, ranked 16th on the wicket-takers' list). Now this may be grist to my semi-Marxist mill, but sport owes its popularity to being the most nakedly, most brutally competitive art. Team games would have been more to Uncle Karl's liking because the collective comes first. Only, sometimes it doesn't.

The balance is wrong. However laudable the receptiveness to change, the constant tinkering with those ODI regulations is proof, surely, that the powers that be, for all their trenchant denials, are aware that the original golden goose is now a dying shark. So let's have more T20 internationals, lots more: there were 47 in 2009, 67 last year, but only 20 scheduled for this one, which would be strange only if you didn't suspect that some sort of deal had been struck to ensure maximum availability and visibility for domestic events. Let's have a three-game series per tour; even an annual World Cup: more games, please, where more people actually care who wins.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jay57870 on October 7, 2011, 11:28 GMT

    In another column (India v The Rest) on DRS, Rob's final comment reads: "What better way (for BCCI) to leave a legacy than to facilitate cricketkind's most important advance since Kerry Packer started paying the players what they were worth?" Really? What has IPL been doing all along? Read Sanjay Manjrekar's concluding comment ("Thank God for the IPL"): "As a former India cricketer I am glad it is making so many domestic players financially secure. It's up to the other cricket boards in the world ... to help their players share in the IPL's riches." Compare the two diverse positions: You be the judge. Indian players shunned WSC on principle. If Tim May & his FICA players have serious concerns, why then are so many foreign players, coaches, support staff, umpires, commentators & Co. flocking to IPL every year? For every injured de Villiers (injuries happen), there are more Malingas able to earn security in retirement with a few IPL years. Is unproven DRS really more important, Rob?

  • jay57870 on October 7, 2011, 11:20 GMT

    Rob -- Like it or not, IPL is here to stay. It's very popular in the cricket-crazed sub-continent. BCCI's motivation? To best serve India's cricket interests. Compare with Kerry Packer. Recall his rebel World Series Cricket in the 70s & how it disrupted world cricket? Still, he's been eulogised, dubious tactics notwithstanding, for his business smarts: exclusive TV rights, mass marketing & luring Aussie/Brit players with better WSC deals. Why dubious? As the late Tiger Pataudi reflected in a recent speech: "Not a single Indian cricketer" joined WSC despite "the English captain (Tony Greig?) ... surreptitiously recruiting for Kerry." In fact, BCCI took a principled stand by hosting "second-rate teams, but to full houses. A lot of money was made & shared between the countries & cricket survived."! He added, "India & Indian cricket (BCCI) earned a huge amount of goodwill & gratitude." Still, BCCI's gutsy stand is ignored by chronicler Steen. What does Rob say about BCCI & Packer? TBC

  • SaneVoice on October 7, 2011, 11:07 GMT

    landl47 - the only problem is that test cricket fans are a minority these days and that's why T20 was invented. Show some respect to a format that has kept bat and ball alive. Nobody cares about test cricket fans and I can understand your helplessness!!!

  • gurudattm on October 6, 2011, 20:56 GMT

    I still want cricket to be more intricate then baseball. Give me Lara over Gayle, anyday.

  • jay57870 on October 6, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    Rob -- Yes, the Red Sox spectacularly blew a sure playoff spot in what might be the worst September collapse in baseball history. Call it Choking! Ask Greg Norman: The Great White Shark too squandered many leads, none more dramatic than the 1996 Masters collapse. Make-or-break moments! We saw one such climactic finish just yesterday when Arun Karthik slogged the last ball off Daniel Christian for a six: An unlikely hero defying all "laws of sporting probability" in what people are calling the most thrilling victory in T20 history. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (215/8) chased down South Australia Redbacks' formidable (214/2) score. Unbelievable! Like the baseball drama last week, we saw two unlikely IPL teams break into the semi-finals: the Sachin-less, injury-depleted Mumbai Indians & the cellar-dwelling RCB jumping to second-place by just edging out Kolkata Knight Riders. The IPL locals did well. Except dual reigning champs CSK did not make it this time. May the best team win CLT20!

  • on October 6, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    I will entertain in-depth insight into other sports in an article on my most favorite sport only if other sports care to dissect my beloved sport in their articles. So, pl no baseball-fawning on Cricinfo, unless a baseball fanatic on a baseball website stands up one day to say, "Hey, look that's cricket. It's a wonderful game, we could pick a thing or two from it...so let's talk about it." Until that day, no baseball, no football, no hockey in a Cricket article, please. Having said that, as one who has woken up early in the mornings to just watch baseball on ESPN about 15 years ago, and having learned all the rules of the game first by playing the ubiquitous video game and by watching it on TV, because I'm fascinated by it, I can say that cricket is a far more complex and skill-demanding game than baseball could ever dream to be. Yes, the only 'department' in baseball that is well nigh ahead of Cricket is 'fielding'. Baseball was post-civil-war America's dumbed-down answer to Cricket

  • i_witnessed_2011 on October 6, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    Completely agree with landl47

  • Timmuh on October 6, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    "Meaningful T20" is a contradiction. T20 can be entertaining, but the result means nothing. Its "cricket based entertainment" in the same way that the Harlem Globetrotters produce "basketball based entertainment" but not games with any meaning whatsoever.

  • jr1972 on October 6, 2011, 1:32 GMT

    How about "More meaningful cricket, and that means no T20, please." or "T20, cricket for people who don't like cricket."

  • Gizza on October 6, 2011, 0:42 GMT

    Annual World T20? No at the most it should be held once every four years like the 50 over World Cup. In most sports all the countries come together rarely. That's what makes the tournaments so special. But in cricket you have the World T20, World Cup and Champions Trophy. No wonder the football and rugby world cups and even hockey at the Olympics (field or ice) generates so much passion. The fans have to wait the tournament. They become impatient. You get tired of seeing the same teams versing each other all the time. At lease in the Champions League T20 you see a new mix of teams which is refreshing although the IPL bias in unwarranted. And again with international T20, if the T20 World Cup was held every four years, the winners will be treated with much more respect. But as it stands we will get a new winner every 1.5 years. Probably every top 8 cricket team will win the World T20 over the next 15 years at this rate. It will be no biggie.

  • jay57870 on October 7, 2011, 11:28 GMT

    In another column (India v The Rest) on DRS, Rob's final comment reads: "What better way (for BCCI) to leave a legacy than to facilitate cricketkind's most important advance since Kerry Packer started paying the players what they were worth?" Really? What has IPL been doing all along? Read Sanjay Manjrekar's concluding comment ("Thank God for the IPL"): "As a former India cricketer I am glad it is making so many domestic players financially secure. It's up to the other cricket boards in the world ... to help their players share in the IPL's riches." Compare the two diverse positions: You be the judge. Indian players shunned WSC on principle. If Tim May & his FICA players have serious concerns, why then are so many foreign players, coaches, support staff, umpires, commentators & Co. flocking to IPL every year? For every injured de Villiers (injuries happen), there are more Malingas able to earn security in retirement with a few IPL years. Is unproven DRS really more important, Rob?

  • jay57870 on October 7, 2011, 11:20 GMT

    Rob -- Like it or not, IPL is here to stay. It's very popular in the cricket-crazed sub-continent. BCCI's motivation? To best serve India's cricket interests. Compare with Kerry Packer. Recall his rebel World Series Cricket in the 70s & how it disrupted world cricket? Still, he's been eulogised, dubious tactics notwithstanding, for his business smarts: exclusive TV rights, mass marketing & luring Aussie/Brit players with better WSC deals. Why dubious? As the late Tiger Pataudi reflected in a recent speech: "Not a single Indian cricketer" joined WSC despite "the English captain (Tony Greig?) ... surreptitiously recruiting for Kerry." In fact, BCCI took a principled stand by hosting "second-rate teams, but to full houses. A lot of money was made & shared between the countries & cricket survived."! He added, "India & Indian cricket (BCCI) earned a huge amount of goodwill & gratitude." Still, BCCI's gutsy stand is ignored by chronicler Steen. What does Rob say about BCCI & Packer? TBC

  • SaneVoice on October 7, 2011, 11:07 GMT

    landl47 - the only problem is that test cricket fans are a minority these days and that's why T20 was invented. Show some respect to a format that has kept bat and ball alive. Nobody cares about test cricket fans and I can understand your helplessness!!!

  • gurudattm on October 6, 2011, 20:56 GMT

    I still want cricket to be more intricate then baseball. Give me Lara over Gayle, anyday.

  • jay57870 on October 6, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    Rob -- Yes, the Red Sox spectacularly blew a sure playoff spot in what might be the worst September collapse in baseball history. Call it Choking! Ask Greg Norman: The Great White Shark too squandered many leads, none more dramatic than the 1996 Masters collapse. Make-or-break moments! We saw one such climactic finish just yesterday when Arun Karthik slogged the last ball off Daniel Christian for a six: An unlikely hero defying all "laws of sporting probability" in what people are calling the most thrilling victory in T20 history. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (215/8) chased down South Australia Redbacks' formidable (214/2) score. Unbelievable! Like the baseball drama last week, we saw two unlikely IPL teams break into the semi-finals: the Sachin-less, injury-depleted Mumbai Indians & the cellar-dwelling RCB jumping to second-place by just edging out Kolkata Knight Riders. The IPL locals did well. Except dual reigning champs CSK did not make it this time. May the best team win CLT20!

  • on October 6, 2011, 11:35 GMT

    I will entertain in-depth insight into other sports in an article on my most favorite sport only if other sports care to dissect my beloved sport in their articles. So, pl no baseball-fawning on Cricinfo, unless a baseball fanatic on a baseball website stands up one day to say, "Hey, look that's cricket. It's a wonderful game, we could pick a thing or two from it...so let's talk about it." Until that day, no baseball, no football, no hockey in a Cricket article, please. Having said that, as one who has woken up early in the mornings to just watch baseball on ESPN about 15 years ago, and having learned all the rules of the game first by playing the ubiquitous video game and by watching it on TV, because I'm fascinated by it, I can say that cricket is a far more complex and skill-demanding game than baseball could ever dream to be. Yes, the only 'department' in baseball that is well nigh ahead of Cricket is 'fielding'. Baseball was post-civil-war America's dumbed-down answer to Cricket

  • i_witnessed_2011 on October 6, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    Completely agree with landl47

  • Timmuh on October 6, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    "Meaningful T20" is a contradiction. T20 can be entertaining, but the result means nothing. Its "cricket based entertainment" in the same way that the Harlem Globetrotters produce "basketball based entertainment" but not games with any meaning whatsoever.

  • jr1972 on October 6, 2011, 1:32 GMT

    How about "More meaningful cricket, and that means no T20, please." or "T20, cricket for people who don't like cricket."

  • Gizza on October 6, 2011, 0:42 GMT

    Annual World T20? No at the most it should be held once every four years like the 50 over World Cup. In most sports all the countries come together rarely. That's what makes the tournaments so special. But in cricket you have the World T20, World Cup and Champions Trophy. No wonder the football and rugby world cups and even hockey at the Olympics (field or ice) generates so much passion. The fans have to wait the tournament. They become impatient. You get tired of seeing the same teams versing each other all the time. At lease in the Champions League T20 you see a new mix of teams which is refreshing although the IPL bias in unwarranted. And again with international T20, if the T20 World Cup was held every four years, the winners will be treated with much more respect. But as it stands we will get a new winner every 1.5 years. Probably every top 8 cricket team will win the World T20 over the next 15 years at this rate. It will be no biggie.

  • on October 5, 2011, 21:40 GMT

    Hate 20/20 apart from live when it's a good opportunity to socialise with friends and enjoy a few beers but that is about all it's got going for it.

    Perhaps if they got rid of the powerplays and fielding restrictions to make it into a more even contest between bat and ball it might improve things but compared to test cricket it's so one-dimensional it's hardly worth watching.

  • landl47 on October 5, 2011, 21:38 GMT

    I disagree completely with you, Mr. Steen. If cricket is to survive what is needed is less T20. You saw from the Indian tour of England what is happening to the players most involved in it. Raina, Kohli, Rahane and Parthiv, the young batsmen in the Indian ODI side, can slog and play trick shots when there is nobody within 30 yards of the wicket. They can't defend or play correct cricket shots- Rahane, for example, simply doesn't possess a cover-drive. The bowlers, brought up on a T20 diet, can't take wickets, they can only bowl negatively. As to fitness, it was easy to see in the third session of every test day how England dominated; the Indians, used to 3-hour games, ran out of gas. 187 in a single session of a test- unthinkable. If the essence of cricket- technique, strategy, concentration and fitness- is lost, the rest of the game will disappear. T20 was created to attract people who don't like cricket. For them it's fine, for the real fans, it's a disaster.

  • on October 5, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    t20 is an extremely diluted and lowly form of cricket at best, with some opportunity for bowlers to be recognized as dams against the flow of runs. However it can be made to look at least as good as it is with sensible tournament formats. I know only Pakistanis follow our local t20 contests but they are an example all other tournaments should follow. t20 is fast and furious and so should be the tournament. The Faysal Bank t20 cup was completed in a week with 14 teams and EACH and EVERY GAME mattered! That is how t20 should be.

  • Nutcutlet on October 5, 2011, 18:23 GMT

    Although baseball and T20 cricket seem to have points in common - I hope that anyone with an ounce of discriminatory power can accept that baseball lacks the variety that even the adolescent child of cricket (T20) possesses. The variety of balls bowled far exceeds the' four different [baseball] deliveries' that so impress Mr Steen. There is far more to captaincy in any form of cricket compared to any other sport with the exception of sailing - so baseball loses out there too. What of the variety of strokes that a batsman can play? How do they compare to the swipe of the batter in baseball? Do fielders need a glove to field the ball? There really is no contest in any sensible comparison between the two games. I am surprised that Mr Steen has been so sucked in by the American game that really has little appeal outside the US boundaries although I am aware that it is played in Japan and other countries where the US has had an extended influence. They are the poorer for it. Ask an Indian!

  • jonesy2 on October 5, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    yeah just cos england are absolutely terrible at short formats.

  • Nutcutlet on October 5, 2011, 14:56 GMT

    2nd post: If 'cricket' is ever to take hold in the USA, then T20 stands a chance! It is custom-built for a nation that collectively has a short attention span. The razzmattaz, moronic chanting, fireworks and dancing girls and war-painted kids - it's all there! And they'd be welcome to it! (Perhaps they could equip the fielders with mits too, then they won't hurt their hands, or break any fingernails!)

  • windiesyouth.12 on October 5, 2011, 13:45 GMT

    totally agree with Yevghenny, there should be less t20s, it should be a purely domestic game with only competitions like the CLT20 where more players will be exposed from around the world. Additionally the CLT20 should be expanded to include club teams from PAK, ZIM and BANG

  • Trapper439 on October 5, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    T20 is pretty much meaningless by definition. You could stage a T1 contest and it wouldn't be that much more of a meaningless lottery than T20 is now. Better yet, how about T0.166667 games in which each side faces just one ball per innings? You could play a hundred or more matches in a day! The sponsors would rake in the cash!

  • ncurd on October 5, 2011, 12:15 GMT

    I'm fully behind the concept of the IPL and have been avidly following my home county throughout. Hopefully they'll stop the Warriors chase. But the entire issue with CT20 is it doesn't get the backing. I think that's more a question of history everyone knows the Manchester Uniteds, the Real Madrid, the Barcelona's when it come to the Football Champions league. However none our teams in T20 have that kind of pedigree yet, Somerset are a great and consistent domestic side but even the ESPN commentators appear ignorant to this fact at times. I think until we have ten years of this viewership will increase. We're just nor familiar enough with the sides yet to care about games in which our team isn't competing. The other issue as noted in qualification is rubbish as i assumes some nations domestic sides are better than others with no real history behind the reason. England gets 4 places in the Eurpoean Champions League as those 4 teams consistently do well and progress.

  • GlobalCricketLover on October 5, 2011, 10:07 GMT

    It would be great if cricinfo launches a survey on readers' views on CLT20. You could question on topics such as 'if people would want to have same no. of teams from all countries', Rule of allowing home grown talent representing IPL teams against their own home teams...5th import allowed for MI etc. Cricinfo is a great platform to let know the world on cricket fans' views and they should do this for the good of the game.

  • GlobalCricketLover on October 5, 2011, 10:04 GMT

    Good points Rob. I am an Indian but hate BCCI/IPL to the core for the way they are bullying cricketing matters. Calling something as Champions league where even the 4th ranked IPL gets a chance is ridiculous. And having different team counts from different countries (just 1 from NZ, SL; 0 from Pak etc) makes it disgraceful. They should have same number of teams from all countries. Remember that none of the IPL teams even qualified for semis in the first edition. To ensure more viewership the format of the tournment itself was changed to the IPL teams get more matches. While most non-IPL teams come with 1-2 imports IPL teams have 4 and the shameless MI even asks for 5th by feigning injuries to its local players. And our dear committe says it is trying to upkeep 'integrity of the tourment'..not sure which tourney they were referring to.

  • SagirParkar on October 5, 2011, 9:25 GMT

    i agree with you on all points Rob... very nicely put... i am an indian but i am a cricket lover foremost... i do not like the IPL and i hate the BCCI for their lack of interest in the game and overt emphasis on money.. i have nothing against T20 and in fact believe that there is a huge space for that format of the game but it needs to be administered properly along with the other 2 formats.

    however i hate the franchise system and the 'buying and selling' of players in the IPL 'auction'.. they are players, sportsmen, individuals not commodities on an open market and need to be treated thus. you are right about the indian fan who has more loyalty to his favourite players rather than his 'club'.. we now see a similar trend coming up in SA and even Australia's Big Bash. I hope some sensible administrators globally step in and buck this trend. Cricket needs to be the priority at all times. if you get the basics right, money will keep coming in anyway.

  • on October 5, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    The powers that be completely missed the boat with 20/20. There can be room in the calendar for an ANNUAL 20/20 World Cup. The tourbament would take three weeks maximum - you can routinely and easily play two games per ground per day, three with use of floodlights. Were this in place, it would be the only form of 20/20 that would attract major audiences, being by far the highest standards and with natural pre-existing national loyalties. By not doing so (and it's now probably too late) the authorities left a niche in the marketplace for commercial interests to move in and fill. Instead of 20/20 being another varient of the INTERNATIONAL game, run by the same authorities, it has become, for a large part, another game altogether, de facto if not de jure controlled outside the cricket mainstream, but drawing on the skills and professional aspirations of players within that manistream, thus setting up conflicts of interest. Missed the boat. Totally.

  • Yevghenny on October 5, 2011, 8:54 GMT

    0-25 off 4 is considered a good performance. 23 off 15 is considered a good innings. We don't need more, we need less. t20 shouldn't really be played at international level, and this tournament is just something to fill a gap that isn't there. Great for the players involved though, some of whom were never internationals. I don't agree with this flooding the side with overpaid international players.

  • Nduru on October 5, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    The phrase 'meaningful T20' is an oxymoron. I can watch T20s between countries with some interest, but this club stuff is a snooze fest. I did not watch a single game of this year's IPL.

  • on October 5, 2011, 6:41 GMT

    I couldn't agree with this article more if I tried. I am fully behind the concept of the Champions League, but what should be a tournament to determine the best domestic side in the world is instead relegated to IPL 'B' - no representation from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or New Zealand, but, what, four IPL teams? Or is it five? But no relative plethora IPL teams, no Champions League. it's that simple. And I'm also glad to see that there's someone out there in Cricinfo who appreciates the finer art of baseball. It's funny when cricket fans decry baseball as a slogging sport, when a commenter here says it's the perfect cure for insomnia. You want to know what else is the perfect cure for insomnia? At least 80% of Test matches.

  • KP_84 on October 5, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    I think Boycott was just venting his frustration at the decline in enthusiam for Test and First-class cricket among both spectators and administrators outside of England.

    India's cricket board has done very little in response to their team's abysmal Test match performances against England. As can be seen from their recently concluded Test series against Australia, Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara - who were once among the world's finest Test batsmen - now struggle to maintain their concentration at the crease for more than an hour-and-a-half and often get themselves out playing unnecessarily aggressive shots, thanks to 20-over cricket.

    T20 will lead to more innovative stroke-play, and improvements in athleticism and catching and throwing technique, but there is no denying that skills such as concentration, patience and batting technique - which are considered hallmarks of good batsmenship - are not nearly as important in 20-over cricket.

  • Winsome on October 5, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    It hopefully will be made an Olympic event and that way you can have a World Cup or Olympics every 2 years.

  • on October 5, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    I truly wish I could argue, but honestly, I can't. One limited overs format is enough- All the powerplays and supersubs and tinkering in the would proves that the previous set of tinkering doesn't work. So instead of a 5 or 7 game ODI series that drags on an ungodly length of time and can have multiple dead rubbers, let's give every tour another Test match and 2 extra Twenty20s and play some Cricket.

  • HatsforBats on October 5, 2011, 5:37 GMT

    Having played cricket & baseball for nearly 20yrs I'm comfortable in saying that the skill set required for cricket is superior to that required for baseball (IMO). And whilst playing is fun, to watch a game of baseball is the perfect cure for insomnia. Other than that I agree whole heartedly with the article. Less & more meaningful games and more accountability for "administrators". Franchises are meaningless without home grown talent forming the majority of the team. If someone could explain to me the rules determining which team a player is "forced" to play for I would appreciate it; it's sad watching NSW play without Lee & Bollinger.

  • Mob_King on October 5, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    An interesting argument for MORE (perhaps: only?) T20 Internationals, against the tide of ex-players who have demanded NO T20 Internationals (ie. reducing it to a merely domestic-only game).

    It will be fascinating to see how things turn out, and I sincerely hope 'the good of the game for all' can be put ahead of lining a minority of administrators' pockets.

  • redneck on October 5, 2011, 5:06 GMT

    rob mate those games dont exist in my view! all 20/20 is meaning less and the only win that can come out of it is all test players avoiding injury so they can go straight back to play tests for their respective countries. make no mistake champions league is just like the ipl totally 100% for indian domestic consumption! yes sure india generously shared the wealth with cricket australia and cricket south africa but its for indian eyes only! you only need to look at who plays for what team. brett lee should be playing for nsw not kolkata, pollard for t&t not mumbai and the list goes on and on! if this were a legit global comp you would get players to play for their home teams not for their indian pay master!!! even the teams that make the tourniment. are india that good at 20/20 they deserve 4 teams? hell no, its because giveing an extra spot to an english county or another south african team isnt going to increase the amount of indians watching, which is the whole point of the league!

  • Woody111 on October 5, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    Boycott's remark about 20/20 being cricket's answer to baseball may have been unfair on baseball but in my view 20/20 is merely a slog fest making it a cross between gambling, baseball with a small amount of cricket thrown in. When a bowler bowls a guy around his legs while the batsman is attempting a reverse sweep it hardly counts as a job well done. When a batsman edges a cover drive which squirts to deep mid-wicket for 2 it's not a well-played shot. We are seeing more and more quality players injured in 20/20 making them unavailable for real cricket (test cricket) representing their country. If you're going to miss a test series surely it's better it happens as a result of practicing/playing the top level rather than 20 over rubbish. 20/20 should only ever be franchise based - please don't add more international stuff as there's enough in domestic comps, world cups, IPL and Champions trophy. The quality of test cricket is suffering because of this stupid form.

  • No_Excuses on October 5, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    Hats off to the sub editor for coming up with the heading of this piece. Clearly satire is his or her forte.

    All IPL sides should be allowed to play 5-6 international cricketers. The standard of cricket of the IPL is poor and if the BCCI wants a window in the calender for this domestic Indian tripe the quality of teams need to dramatically improved.

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  • No_Excuses on October 5, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    Hats off to the sub editor for coming up with the heading of this piece. Clearly satire is his or her forte.

    All IPL sides should be allowed to play 5-6 international cricketers. The standard of cricket of the IPL is poor and if the BCCI wants a window in the calender for this domestic Indian tripe the quality of teams need to dramatically improved.

  • Woody111 on October 5, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    Boycott's remark about 20/20 being cricket's answer to baseball may have been unfair on baseball but in my view 20/20 is merely a slog fest making it a cross between gambling, baseball with a small amount of cricket thrown in. When a bowler bowls a guy around his legs while the batsman is attempting a reverse sweep it hardly counts as a job well done. When a batsman edges a cover drive which squirts to deep mid-wicket for 2 it's not a well-played shot. We are seeing more and more quality players injured in 20/20 making them unavailable for real cricket (test cricket) representing their country. If you're going to miss a test series surely it's better it happens as a result of practicing/playing the top level rather than 20 over rubbish. 20/20 should only ever be franchise based - please don't add more international stuff as there's enough in domestic comps, world cups, IPL and Champions trophy. The quality of test cricket is suffering because of this stupid form.

  • redneck on October 5, 2011, 5:06 GMT

    rob mate those games dont exist in my view! all 20/20 is meaning less and the only win that can come out of it is all test players avoiding injury so they can go straight back to play tests for their respective countries. make no mistake champions league is just like the ipl totally 100% for indian domestic consumption! yes sure india generously shared the wealth with cricket australia and cricket south africa but its for indian eyes only! you only need to look at who plays for what team. brett lee should be playing for nsw not kolkata, pollard for t&t not mumbai and the list goes on and on! if this were a legit global comp you would get players to play for their home teams not for their indian pay master!!! even the teams that make the tourniment. are india that good at 20/20 they deserve 4 teams? hell no, its because giveing an extra spot to an english county or another south african team isnt going to increase the amount of indians watching, which is the whole point of the league!

  • Mob_King on October 5, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    An interesting argument for MORE (perhaps: only?) T20 Internationals, against the tide of ex-players who have demanded NO T20 Internationals (ie. reducing it to a merely domestic-only game).

    It will be fascinating to see how things turn out, and I sincerely hope 'the good of the game for all' can be put ahead of lining a minority of administrators' pockets.

  • HatsforBats on October 5, 2011, 5:37 GMT

    Having played cricket & baseball for nearly 20yrs I'm comfortable in saying that the skill set required for cricket is superior to that required for baseball (IMO). And whilst playing is fun, to watch a game of baseball is the perfect cure for insomnia. Other than that I agree whole heartedly with the article. Less & more meaningful games and more accountability for "administrators". Franchises are meaningless without home grown talent forming the majority of the team. If someone could explain to me the rules determining which team a player is "forced" to play for I would appreciate it; it's sad watching NSW play without Lee & Bollinger.

  • on October 5, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    I truly wish I could argue, but honestly, I can't. One limited overs format is enough- All the powerplays and supersubs and tinkering in the would proves that the previous set of tinkering doesn't work. So instead of a 5 or 7 game ODI series that drags on an ungodly length of time and can have multiple dead rubbers, let's give every tour another Test match and 2 extra Twenty20s and play some Cricket.

  • Winsome on October 5, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    It hopefully will be made an Olympic event and that way you can have a World Cup or Olympics every 2 years.

  • KP_84 on October 5, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    I think Boycott was just venting his frustration at the decline in enthusiam for Test and First-class cricket among both spectators and administrators outside of England.

    India's cricket board has done very little in response to their team's abysmal Test match performances against England. As can be seen from their recently concluded Test series against Australia, Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara - who were once among the world's finest Test batsmen - now struggle to maintain their concentration at the crease for more than an hour-and-a-half and often get themselves out playing unnecessarily aggressive shots, thanks to 20-over cricket.

    T20 will lead to more innovative stroke-play, and improvements in athleticism and catching and throwing technique, but there is no denying that skills such as concentration, patience and batting technique - which are considered hallmarks of good batsmenship - are not nearly as important in 20-over cricket.

  • on October 5, 2011, 6:41 GMT

    I couldn't agree with this article more if I tried. I am fully behind the concept of the Champions League, but what should be a tournament to determine the best domestic side in the world is instead relegated to IPL 'B' - no representation from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or New Zealand, but, what, four IPL teams? Or is it five? But no relative plethora IPL teams, no Champions League. it's that simple. And I'm also glad to see that there's someone out there in Cricinfo who appreciates the finer art of baseball. It's funny when cricket fans decry baseball as a slogging sport, when a commenter here says it's the perfect cure for insomnia. You want to know what else is the perfect cure for insomnia? At least 80% of Test matches.

  • Nduru on October 5, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    The phrase 'meaningful T20' is an oxymoron. I can watch T20s between countries with some interest, but this club stuff is a snooze fest. I did not watch a single game of this year's IPL.