Australia in Sri Lanka 2011

Lee watches Twenty20's rise from joke to juggernaut

ESPNcricinfo staff

August 5, 2011

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Brett Lee stretches as he is watched by fans during a training session, Colombo, August 1, 2011
"It's about understanding your game, knowing where it can be taken to" © Getty Images
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Having witnessed the evolution of Twenty20 from its formative days, Australia seamer Brett Lee admits that his team's attitude towards the format has evolved over the years.

As part of the Australian team in New Zealand in 2005, Lee played in the first T20 international. To call it hit and giggle would have been to overstate the seriousness of the occasion. Donning retro uniforms and encouraged to grow their hair out or sport headbands, the two teams were there to entertain, and seemed unaware of the financial juggernaut the format would become.

"Certainly the players think that and I think the public are now starting to realise that it is the third format of the game," Lee told AAP.

"It's a very important format of the game. It used to be, reading through the press and probably from us as well in '04-05, a bit of a hit and giggle which it probably was back then because nobody knew how to take it on or what to do."

After that New Zealand tour the Australians, as their predecessors had done when one-day cricket emerged in the 1970s, took time to develop a seriousness of approach to the game, and lost the one-off T20 to England at the Rosebowl later that year having trained without taking heed of the match that evening.

"No-one knew that if you've gone for less than 32 runs off your four overs you've had an extremely good game," Lee said. "People saw you getting hit for 18-20 off your four overs and thought you were a bit expensive but as time goes on, 30 is pretty good. If you go for 40, even then it's still pretty good."

Attitudes have changed greatly in the space of six years, culminating in the launch of the T20 Big Bash League in Australia. Lee said this reflected a greater understanding of public interest in the format.

"It's about understanding your game, knowing where it can be taken to," he said. "Now that people are watching Twenty20 cricket, it's exciting. Kids come down after school, parents come down after work, they don't have to sit in the hot sun, they can watch it at night, it's got music - it's the stuff spectators love."

Nonetheless, in international terms T20 is still best served as an aperitif, and Lee applauded programmers for scheduling the two T20 internationals in Sri Lanka as a prelude to the limited overs and Test series that will follow.

"If you were to have it at the end after a Test series it probably wouldn't work as well," he said. "Definitely I think the way a series should be run, or a tour should be run, is that you start with your Twenty20s, then your one-dayers and then your Test matches. It just flows in beautifully into the longer form of the game."

As for Sri Lanka, Lee expected a fight, but one from which the tourists could emerge victorious.

"They're a very compact unit and one that's capable of beating any side around the world," Lee said. "We've had some great bouts with them where we have probably had, on paper, the better side and they've played as a team and they've played very well.

"We know that they're a very strong side and we know that they're going to come at us very hard but saying that as well, the squad we've got for Twenty20 and one-dayers is very, very strong. I'm really confident in the side we've got here to go on and take the series out."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by 512fm on (August 6, 2011, 11:51 GMT)

@ johnathonjosephs - i could not agree any more mate, i actually enjoyed t20 when it started as a bit of fun but since its become serious it has become more of a joke. the quality of a t20 game is just no where near the same as an odi or test. the only reason they think t20 is popular is because people that hate cricket will turn up and watch it, when real cricket fans like me think its absolute trash. we are starting to see the effects of overkill with it as well.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (August 6, 2011, 8:17 GMT)

ummmm... Juggernaut? To be honest, does anybody watch any form of T20 when it is not in a series (meaning not IPL or T20WC). I don't watch any T20 unless its the world cup and even IPL has been getting boring. Tests and ODIs are here to stay. Only reason why people think T20 is getting more popular is because they look at the stands. I would not go to the stands for an entire day for a test match or ODI match. Just too much time to waste. Would rather have it on my tv while I multitask and do whatever chores around the house. T20 games, I would go to because its only 3.5 hours long. DOn't mistake that however, because on my TV, I would rather watch Test/ODI (to be honest even ODI's are getting boring now... Tests are engrossing to watch however)

Posted by Boris72 on (August 6, 2011, 4:21 GMT)

It still is hit and giggle when you think about it. Does anybody, particularly in Australia and England, think of it as more than just a bit of light entertainment, a support act to the Tests and even ODIs. Nobody really cares about which team wins, they just like seeing a few sixes, some stumps shattered and a few dives in the field here and there... no matter the team. Then they get serious and barrack for their team in the other formats.

T20s should really be kept that way. I'm a bit biased because of my traditional views but it isn't a good enough sport to sustain a prolonged interest - you can predict games so easily and it's just too short for cricket to really work, just like you can't take beach cricket seriously. Keep these as the curtain raisers, a bit of fun over a couple of gains before the serious action starts where people start caring.

Posted by farkin on (August 6, 2011, 2:24 GMT)

have not watched a t20 yet but its good for the young to make there name in and the old to get money before they retire'

Posted by CricketPissek on (August 5, 2011, 22:10 GMT)

@AndyZaltzmannsHair - ur being very harsh. what ever did that lady do to deserve such a horrific remark? :D

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (August 5, 2011, 19:03 GMT)

Is that Yuvraj Singh to the left of him in the picture? Or am I being too harsh??

Posted by   on (August 5, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

I too think the flow is important. Start from T20s, then ODIs, and onto Tests.

Posted by Mfalme on (August 5, 2011, 12:55 GMT)

@Brett Lee/Behind_the_bowlers_arm :- I could not agree more with both of you. That's exactly what sprang to my mind when I first saw the tour itinerary. Hope henceforth this stays a recipe for all future tours for all teams and the acclimatisation hopefully should off-set the home advantage to some extent and deliver better contest in tests.

Posted by Herath-UK on (August 5, 2011, 9:09 GMT)

Those who shower praise on T20 have one leg in the IPL and would like the show to continue for the very good reason. Ranil Herath -Kent

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (August 5, 2011, 9:06 GMT)

Brett Lee can be a very important man to have around the Australian squad helping young fast bowlers come into international cricket via t20 to ODI's & then to Tests. He is completely right about the flow of tours. T20's (2 maybe), ODI's (maximum of 3) & then the Tests. One of the effects is that it would hopefully mean Test teams will arrive for away tours and have some acclimatisation even if its just practice before the First Test.

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