The changing game May 25, 2009

Handling Twenty20 domination needs new mindset - Majola


World cricket administrators must be prepared for change in the near future where they are likely to have to strike a balance between five high-profile Twenty20 tournaments every year and traditional formats like Tests and ODIs, Gerald Majola, chief executive of Cricket South Africa (CSA), has said.

In an interview to Cricinfo a day after the second IPL ended in South Africa, Majola said the ICC's Future Tours Programe (FTP), the current version of which lapses in 2012, is also likely to adjust accordingly.

CSA is a founding partner of the Champions Twenty20 League, a multi-nation club event that will be held in India in October, and is in negotiations with Cricket Australia and New Zealand Cricket to hold a separate Southern Twenty20 league involving domestic teams from the three countries. With the ECB approving plans last month for their own P20 league, and Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, floating the idea of a second annual season, world cricket will soon confront a future packed with five Twenty20 leagues a year, apart from Tests and ODIs.

Majola believes, though, that there is room for all formats to thrive if there is a willingness to change. "Cricket remains a dynamic sport, and administrators must also be prepared for change if it is needed," he said "There is room for all forms of this great game. With the advent of the IPL and similar tournaments, the FTP is most likely to adjust accordingly."

Majola, however, dismissed as a "misconception" suggestions that Test cricket was in danger because of these Twenty20 leagues. "South Africa and Australia have recently completed a six-Test, home-and-away series with every match going to the wire and producing a result -- there were no draws," Majola said. "All matches drew full houses and the players responded accordingly with exciting, positive cricket. If this vein continues, Test cricket will stay healthy. I am sure it will also gain from the new generation of spectators coming from the T20 arena. Certainly, T20 has produced a lot more adventure in Test cricket and there is definitely a place in both forms for skilled players."

Majola also said that the "enormously resounding success" of the IPL has come as a surprise, given the short span of time in which it was relocated from India. The Indian league also taught CSA valuable lessons, he said, and the most important one was that everyone involved, "from the State Presidency to the car park attendants", need to share the vision for an event of this magnitude to succeed.

Majola admitted, though, that he didn't expect the IPL to be such a success in South Africa. "We always expected to host a successful IPL tournament because we have the expertise, excellent facilities, an equable climate and a cricket-loving public that shows a great penchant for limited-overs cricket," he said. "We also had the full support of the South African government from the outset and this made a huge difference. However, taking all these pluses this into account, we never expected that IPL 2009 would be such an enormously resounding success."

The key ingredient for the IPL's success in a foreign country, he said, was the marketing effort that went into the event. "There is no doubt that the difference between hosting a successful IPL and producing an outstanding one was the expert marketing put into place at short notice by the organizers," he said. "It hit the right note to a public that adores limited-overs cricket and the glamour and glitz of cricketing superstars mixing with Bollywood personalities."

Top Curve
Indians for new league
  • Top Indian players are likely to feature in the Southern Twenty20 league that is being planned, possibly from next year, by South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Gerald Majola, CSA's chief executive, said. "Nothing concrete has been decided," he said. "It is most likely that Indian players will be involved, just like non-Indian players are involved in the IPL."
Bottom Curve

For CSA, the main difference between hosting the ICC World Cup in 2003 and the ICC World Twenty20 in 2007, and the IPL this month, Majola said, was the Indian league's handling of its stadium rights.

"The difference was mainly in the full manner in which the IPL exercised its stadium rights," he said. "The hosting agreement was based on that with the ICC, but the IPL rightly took full advantage - they wanted a clean stadium, including hospitality areas, which put a big strain on the agreements the stadia had with suite renters. We had to make alternative arrangements to accommodate the locals. CSA and the stadia are going to have to bring all our hosting agreements into line so that we do not have this issue again."

During this IPL, there were reports from South Africa about how the organizers had faced problems in getting full access to the sponsors' suites at the grounds after owners refused to step aside, citing separate agreements with CSA. On many occasions, the deadlock was resolved only after the IPL provided separate seating and hospitality arrangements for the original suite-holders.

Yet, the biggest lesson to emerge from this IPL was the need for all "relevant stake-holders" to share a common vision, Majola said. "The single biggest lesson coming out of the 2009 IPL in South Africa is that it is essential that all relevant stake-holders are on board and share the same vision for the event as was the case here," he said. "Everybody got behind this event, from the State Presidency to the car park attendants. People helped each other, even to the extent of the media giving mammoth below-the-line support to the formal advertising and marketing programme. The impact was huge. Everybody felt they had ownership of an extremely exciting event."

Majola said that CSA will now take a careful look at any opportunity to host another IPL. "Having a shorter, second season of IPL has been mooted and CSA would have to take a careful look at hosting one of them if it was offered to us," he said.

Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shafaet on May 30, 2009, 12:52 GMT

    Those who love t20 didnt see a single great test match. They dont understand what test match is. So dont listen the crap they say. If ODI need to be slayed to save test, so be it. My request is please stop the ugly game of money, that makes cricket ashamed. Cheerleaders and ipl are the disgrace of cricket. In IPL cricket dont attract people, the enviornment attract them.

  • Muhammad on May 26, 2009, 21:05 GMT

    The problem lies not in IPL or T20 but in the lack of youngsters playing cricket at schoolboy/club level around the world. The last thng cricket needs is for another major team to become Windies2. If the IPL succeeds at raising interest amongst young kids-great for all forms of cricket. True there must not be an overkill of crickets hottest property-20/20. Perhaps the formula for success in years to come will be the fastest bowlers and biggest tweakers will be the most successfull proponents. I think that bowlers should be allowed to bowl up to 10 overs a match.

  • Rupesh on May 26, 2009, 19:27 GMT

    (1) Get rid of the ODIs. (2) Make sure every tour has at least 3 tests. No more of these two- test series. (3) Play 7 t20s and 3-6 tests on every tour. (4) Create heavy fines for the boards for preparing unplayable or extremely flat tracks. (5) Create a 4 month t20 season, where t20 leagues are being played everywhere. This season ends in a champions trophy. The other 8 months are test season when countries tour each other playing tests and t20 internationals. None of this having to choose between country and the t20 money.

    Buh-bye ODIs.

  • John on May 26, 2009, 18:56 GMT

    20/20 is mindnumbingly dull, the most boring sporting spectacle ever created. Pointless and forgettable. Its success has already leveled off and will diminish in coming years as overkill sets in.

    I appreciate Mr. Majola's defense of test cricket but who cares if there are draws in test cricket? Draws are part of the game.

  • Tim on May 26, 2009, 13:01 GMT

    100% agree with scritty and JulesUK - except the bit about loving T20. It has become a complete bore, a joyless game without subtlety, honour or meaning. I could have endured it in small doses, even enjoyed it at times as a kind of idiot's funfair, but the money-grubbing administrators have sunk in their claws now and cricket will suffer as a result. We can only hope that test cricket survives relatively unscathed, but given the dollar signs in everyone's eyes (Chris Gayle et al), I have my doubts.

  • Tim on May 26, 2009, 11:47 GMT

    100% agree with scritty and JulesUK - except the bit about loving T20. It has become a complete bore, a joyless game without subtlety, honour or meaning. I could have endured it in small doses, even enjoyed it at times as a kind of idiot's funfair, but the money-grubbing administrators have sunk in their claws now and cricket will suffer as a result. We can only hope that test cricket survives relatively unscathed, but given the dollar signs in everyone's eyes (Chris Gayle et al), I have my doubts.

  • laxman on May 26, 2009, 9:50 GMT

    With so much of T20 coming up,people are already writing off ODIs. Say by 2020 Test Cricket will also vanish. A very simple reason for this is a six year old along with his parents will dream to bcome a T20 star and not a test cricketer. The new generation will be in T20 mould. They will throw the basics and the temperment which are essential ingredients of Test Cricket to the wind. There wont be nets but only grounds, where for the batsman 'Hit Hard, High and Far' is the basic mantra taught by the coach. I will look it at this way, Darwin's Theory Of Evolution - Survival Of The Fittest. And actually speaking T20 has evolved from Test Cricket and so Test Cricket should perish

  • Paul on May 26, 2009, 9:04 GMT

    It seems that people only want to pay to watch 6's hit. But like putting all your favourite tunes on your Ipod,you will soon be bored of something you thought you'd love forever. You will wring the juice out of it very quickly.

    I hope ODI's in their 50 over format stay. I would like to see them reduced though. Playing the same opponent 7 times is very very dull indeed.

    Three international Twenty20 tournaments is plenty, more and they will kill the interest inside 5 years.

    Bowling skill are being reduced to; "take the pace off the ball" or "bowl yorkers". Most other bowling skill are redundant in T20.

    I hope people will realise that a balanced challenge is vital to the future of the game. Slow/Low pitches and Twenty20 will soon make bowling skills a waste of time. Might as well get Bola or Merlin to bowl at you.

    In short, the game may be on a very quick road to destruction if we play too much T20.

    Watching slogging gets boring quicker than you'd think.

  • Julian on May 26, 2009, 8:34 GMT

    Overkill. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Familiarity breeds contempt. Diminishing returns. Market saturation. All concepts that cricket administrators worldwide completely fail to understand.

    Five "major" Twenty20 tournaments a year will totally devalue the format and turn off the public. You didn't win the tournament? Don't worry there will be another one starting in a few weeks.

    People are already staying away from the English domestic Twenty20 competition (it's on right now apparently).

    Twenty20 will end up like football. Some tournaments will be more "major" than others. Some will end up as the Carling Cup or Europa League of T20, with weakened teams and poor crowds.

    Don't get me wrong, I love Twenty20, just not enough to get excited about wall to wall tournaments all year.

  • Nick on May 26, 2009, 6:52 GMT

    I agree with previous comments about, if necessary, sacrificing ODIs in favour of T20 - there's not really much offered by ODIs that isn't available in T20. And as everyone seems to be going overboard with their enthusiasm for the new format, retaining all 3 forms of cricket would produce an incredibly bloated schedule that, ultimately, would lead to a loss if interest in the game itself. I do however believe that Tests should remain the pinnacle of cricket, as T20 is shown to be utterly shallow and empty when compared with a good Test match. The ICC, though, need to ensure that competitive wickets are produced for Test matches as runfest draws are harming the format. All that said, i can;t help but wonder if the sudden (Indian-driven) interest in T20 is a result of that being the only format they have been able to win a trophy in - and if they fail to defend their T20 title this year, if the interest will wane somewhat.

  • No featured comments at the moment.