Despite its huge popularity across the globe, cricket has traditionally suffered from a reputation as being long-winded and dull. Day-long matches and the slow nature of the sport has been a key reason why many tuned out, rather than tuned in. Only true cricket fans had the patience for test matches and One Day Internationals (ODIs).
The nature of ‘traditional format’ cricket has limited growth and halted the sport’s ability to generate new fans. In recent years, sports such as darts have seen a resurgence due to new formats, exciting music walk-ons, and competition structures.
The relatively new T20 cricket format has quickly gained worldwide popularity and a dedicated following since its introduction in England and Wales. What was originally intended as an inter-county format has spawned a whole legion of fans and huge audiences. Many would argue T20 has transformed the sport for the better.
The introduction of the T20 format
Cricket’s Twenty20 (also known simply as T20) format has quickly gained popularity among old and new fans alike. This exciting new format has proved to be a winning formula both in the UK and around the world.
Why? The reason is simple. The T20 format is faster and easier for non-cricket fans to watch. It keeps the audience engaged and interested in the play. And it means crowds who pay tickets to watch live matches get better value, often two games per day.
Shaking up cricket in this manner may have seemed risky for some. But the results speak for themselves. Audiences for T20 cricket matches are at an all-time high, with one example being the ICC T20 World Cup, watched by 730 million viewers in India.
The changes seen since its introduction have not detracted away from One Day Internationals (ODIs), the Ashes, and other international events and county matches. In fact, T20 has introduced new fans to the sport and perfectly complements the existing itinerary.
The visual aspect of the game has also seen changes in T20. The traditional white clothing has been replaced by a wide variety of colours, ranging from bright yellow and green to pink and black. This has spawned new, exciting leagues in many countries.
And then there is the added pizzazz of music before, during, and after the game. Cheerleaders entertain the crowd while matches become a spectacle, not unlike a Premier League football game. The whole experience is fast-paced and engaging.
The rules of T20 cricket
One of the most significant changes is the introduction of new rules. These have been seen to keep the game fresh and dynamic. T20 has a maximum amount of 20 overs per game. And a single bowler is limited to a maximum of 4 overs. There is only a single innings permitted per team as well.
The new format also makes use of a dugout, similar to that seen in football and rugby. Team members assemble on the dugout, whereas traditionally, batters and bowlers would arrive via the clubhouse. Having a batter or bowler comes on from the dugout increases the speed and momentum of the game.
Since the average time of a T20 match is 3.5 hours, it is possible to watch at least two matches per day. This is great news for those new to cricket who often don’t want to sit all day watching a One Day International (ODI).
Fans can pay for one ticket and watch as many games as they please. Contrast this with One Day International (ODI) cricket and it’s easy to see why the T20 format gives supporters more excitement and value for money.
Indian Premier League (IPL)
The Indian Premier League (IPL) plays the T20 format of cricket and has become popular across the world for its exciting play and competitive spirit. Teams such as Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders compete for the title of champions and generate huge audiences – among the biggest in the world.
Big Bash League
Australia’s T20 league features teams like Sydney Sixers, Brisbane Heat, and Melbourne Stars. Since the introduction of the new league format, Big Bash has seen audiences grow tremendously – over an 80% increase from previous figures. Although concerns remain about the length of the season, Big Bash is a continuing success.
The England and Wales T20 format cricket is called Vitality Blast and was the first T20 league in the world. Founded in 2003 as an inter-county league format, T20 includes county teams within England and Wales, including Lancashire Lightning, Kent Spitfires, Sussex Sharks, and Glamorgan. It’s a well-supported and exciting domestic league.
International T20 (known as T20I) has quickly cemented itself as one of the top-level cricket competitions worldwide. The league began with a handful of Full Member teams and then expanded using the Associate Member scheme. This has enabled the T20I tournament to expand quickly, encompassing 12 full members, 8 with ODI status, and 85 associate members. T20I is the top-level T20 tournament in the world.