While England might be the Twenty20 Cricket World Champions, it appears the gimmick of the shortest version of the game could be getting old. New columnist Tom Maston investigates.
With the impending ECB announcement that the amount of Twenty20 Cup group games in England’s domestic calendar is going to be cut from 16 to ten, many commentators have asked whether the pull of the newest form of the game is beginning to drop.
Throughout the 2010 County season, the issue of Twenty20 overkill was raised many times, with counties playing 16 group games each as appose to the usual ten. Attendances were down on previous seasons, whilst certain international games also saw less than capacity crowds. Players also complained of burnout, with some becoming injured before the season had come to an end.
This season’s competition was billed as the biggest and best so far, with more overseas players than ever before. The introduction of stars such as Herschelle Gibbs and Adam Gilchrist to the competition failed to galvanise audiences as the ECB and the various counties had hoped, and with the sheer volume of games, audiences dwindled. England’s matches against Bangladesh and Pakistan were watched by less than full stadiums as cricket supporters struggled to finance watching all the cricket that was on offer.
It wasn’t only the public who couldn’t handle the amount of games, but also the players. The likes of England Twenty20 World Cup winner Michael Lumb had their season’s cut short due to injury, whilst other players were rested so as to save them from burning out. Six extra days of cricket a year may not sound a lot, but with travelling and the enhanced warm-ups and fitness training that the modern cricketer has to go through, these six days can be the difference between a player staying fit or picking up an injury.
So is Twenty20 cricket, the format that those at the top of the game said would bring in a new mass audience, now losing its appeal?
The answer is most probably not yet, especially in countries such as India and Australia, where the IPL and KFC Big Bash have the biggest stadium and television audiences. However, in the country in which Twenty20 was formed, the draw of the shortened format is at its lowest since its inception in 2003. In the event that this pattern spreads from England’s shores, then the future of “the future of cricket” could be under threat.
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