Is Twenty20 ruining cricket?

HARARE - Big hits, loud music and provocatively dressed dancing girls is what most people seem to enjoy when having a day out at the cricket.

It is becoming increasingly harder to have a decent and intelligent cricket conversation with someone who calls themself a cricket fan.

This is probably due to the fact that Twenty20 cricket has become so popular and demanding.

It was just a week ago that we saw the West Indies dancing and celebrating after their well-deserved win over Sri Lanka in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 and already the Champions League, another Twenty20 tournament, gets underway in South Africa.

The problem with all these Twenty20 competitions such as the IPL, the ICC World Twenty20, the Champions League as well as smaller tournaments such as Australia’s Big Bash, England’s domestic tournament as well as the tournaments such as South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is that players at some point must surely begin to feel the effects of jetlag as well as the constant strain on body parts.

Another fact to ponder on is loyalty.

When a player becomes a travelling salesman and plays for three or even four teams in a year, where does his loyalty truly lie?

Does it lie with his country or with the paymaster who writes out the biggest cheque at the end of a competition?

I was shocked senseless when I heard that the traditional Boxing Day Test in Durban would not be played this year because it was decided that, yes, you guessed it!

A T20 international would be played instead.

And so the friendly and Test cricket loving folk of Port Elizabeth will now have to endure yet another quick fix international when South Africa take on New Zealand.

Since South Africa’s return to international sport, there has always been a Boxing Day Test match, with the exception of 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2008 when the Proteas toured Australia.

And even then, the Proteas would still be playing Test cricket.

When the fans were asked how they felt about this new idea, most of them were outraged, which apparently took cricket South Africa by surprise, and their response was that they didn’t know how much Test cricket was still appreciated in South Africa.

The flip side to TSO cricket is the entertainment it provides to so many people who never used to understand cricket.

Those who found the game boring and uninteresting, were suddenly attracted to this new and fast flowing form of the game that only lasts three hours.

For those countries fortunate enough to have flood lit stadiums, day night T20 cricket even allows for the entire family to get out and have loads of fun before getting the kids in to bed in order to get them to school the following day.

What has also become very noticeable is that the international players have come to know each other and in some cases have struck up friendships. Although it has to be said that these newly found friendships diminish rather rapidly when they take to the field, which still keeps the competitive spirit alive.

The inception of T20 cricket also took care of the middle overs of 50 over cricket that some perceived to be boring when batsmen would be in the collecting faze of an innings as they would often be rotating the strike, taking singles and not be hitting boundaries.

For those who are purists and who love the purest form of the game, T20 cricket and the amount being played may find this form of cricket similar to the unhealthy environment of a fast food outlet. While those who like the fast flowing form of the game will find it a breath of fresh air.

Either way, the debate of T20 cricket will continue to rage amongst cricket lovers until the very end of time. - Dean du Plesiss

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