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Is Twenty20 too much of a good thing?

Jonathan Agnew | 14:40 UK time, Thursday, 17 July 2008

Normally, Andrew Flintoff returning to the England fold would be the big talking point in cricket.

But even Freddie was overshadowed on Wednesday when the England and Wales Cricket Board announced the creation of an English Premier League, plus other reforms to the county structure.

The most important aspect of the reforms is that the County Championship remains intact and robust.

There was a real concern that a three-way conference system might have been introduced to free up room for yet another one-day tournament but common sense has prevailed...

Flintoff gets pumping for his Test return

The success of cricket in England will depend on the quality of its Test team, and the preparation of our players for that is paramount.

The 40-over format is irrelevant to the modern game - no one else plays it in the world - and although it was hugely successful here in the early days of one-day cricket, there seems little point in continuing with it when there is also a 50-over competition which will be run along exactly the same lines as one-day internationals.

So far, so good!

We have all been speculating about what format the much anticipated EPL would take, and now we know.

Some people continue to argue that a franchise, city-based tournament, would work but I remain entirely unconvinced by that.

Besides, English cricket needs the geographical spread that the 18 counties provide.

Market research suggests that people want more Twenty20 cricket in July and August, and now they will be able to watch it throughout the summer as not merely one, but two competitions - including the EPL - run side by side.

It is too much, of course, but the administrators are hell bent on squeezing as much money out of this shortened form of the game as possible.

There are some serious questions of the EPL that need answering, not least its identity.

Apart from the fact that it will include two overseas teams, what will the difference be between the EPL and the domestic competition?

What will make it stand out, or make it special? I can't think of anything.

And what about the overseas players - has this been thought through? Can it be possible, as the result of an IPL-style auction, that an overseas player can appear for two different counties in the two competitions? Goodness knows!

My view is that this seems rather hurried and, as a consequence, there are too many questions left unanswered.

Where, for example, will the current quota of Test cricket sit in this rapidly crowded summer - we have not mentioned the proposed Stanford quadrangular tournament or the Champions League?

This will certainly test the stamina of even the staunchest Twenty20 supporter, as well as its long-term popularity.

Meanwhile, back to Test cricket and a certain Flintoff playing in his first Test match for 17 months.


  • Comment number 1.

    The thing that concerns me most with twenty20 is that it undoutadly generates profit, and where there is profit, buisnessmen come in. Because its an undoubted hit in India and here, what is to stop Australia and then South Africa setting up there own leagues. Soon we will get to a situattion where over half the year is taekn up by these stupid shallow franchise tournaments.
    Plus if the tournament proves a hit in England there will be an angling for a longer tournament than 4 weeks. Result less and less time for test cricket. Ultimately England cricketers may have to choose and where theres money sportsmen like ordinary people will follow it.

    I am worried the beautiul sport of cricket is going down the same road as US sport and the disgusting English Premiership in football. Where only money talks and the clubs no longer have any links to their local communitys; The fickle British public did not care about this happening with their football clubs in the long run, so will they bother if it happens to their county sides?

  • Comment number 2.

    I think all this twenty20 cricket is taking away from the very thing that made it interesting to begin with - the fact it was a welcome change. But it is certainly not as good as the longer formats of the game and it is certainly not a test of cricketing skill for the players in the same way tests and 50 over games are.

    Can't help thinking that the games governing bodies are aiming too much at gaining new fans that find 'REAL' cricket too dull because they don't understand the finer points of the game, rather than sticking to the games true fans.

    Anyway, whos going to watch all this cricket as I dare say most of it will be shown on sky! I'd love to see the ECB concentrating their efforts where they really need to be - getting Cricket back on terrestrial free-to-view TV. How do they ever expect to get new fans of the game really interested if it is not freely available to watch anyway!

    But great to have Freddie back - can't wait to see him in action...

  • Comment number 3.

    It is only a matter of time until Test cricket is consigned to history. Or at least played before an audience the size of your average county game.

    How many of the fans watching test cricket are middle-aged and above? I doubt there are many young fans deciding to watch test matches instead of 20-20. Everything in todays society is instant. A game which take 4 hours to play provides just that.

  • Comment number 4.

    This all reminds me of the bank adverts where the existing customers lose out because the only people the 'suits' are interested in are new customers.
    Who cares about the fans of cricket from before the 2005 Ashes? It seems the new fans are having their desires catered for while the purists (for want of a better word) are left with less and less of what made the sport so great in the first place.

  • Comment number 5.

    wot i dont understand about this EPL, is why did we need it, we already had a perfectly good 20?20 cup and now we have 2, it just seems stupid to spend so much time playin the game that takes the least amount of time.

    Test cricket is the pinacle of the sport and so we should play more of it.

    my thoughts are that we shopuld have a second and third teir of Test Cricket, this means that we could have a more exciting test arena, which includes the best players players at that particular event
    This is because the County Championship is nothin compared to Test or International cricket

  • Comment number 6.

    It seems that if 20/20 is to be anything beyond a bunch of unrelated entertainment events, more thought is needed.

    The oft-made comparison of 20/20 with baseball misses some important elements . What works for baseball is that individual games have little weight. The drama comes over the course of a long 162-game season during which teams have ups and downs and winning/losing streaks and play each other numerous times at home and away.

    Like 20/20, with good luck, a bad baseball team can beat a good team on a given day. But even with good luck, a bad team cannot end up at the top over a sustained period. Plus the goal of winning the World Series has meaning to players and fans alike.

    Without these types of elements 20/20 can never be more than fluff.

  • Comment number 7.

    In reply to number 3, as a 17yr old fan, I and many of my friends still choose test matches over 20/20-it is a fuller, more complex and exciting game-2020 strikes me as brash, limp and giving everything for a few overs-not tactical!

  • Comment number 8.

    Actually number 3 i'm 16 and much prefer tests to anything one-day related. Ill still watch 20-20's and one dayers as its still cricket but it is no where near as challenging or as tactical as tests

  • Comment number 9.

    Why oh why on earth do we need two 20/20 competitions - talk about overkill and dissipating interest in a form of the game.

    Can the truly blinkered, self interested counties not see that having three competitions would increase interest in all of them.

    Thanks goodness there's some light at the end of the tunnel with all the blanket interest in 20/20 with the annoucement that all future England/SA test series will be five match affairs - great stuff.

    20/20 is welcome but two Enlgand competitions - no thanks. More barmy English county "thinking".

  • Comment number 10.

    As it seems the done thing i too will give my age - 23. i love test cricket, moving the tv outside and watching it whilst 'revising' for exams, sneaking headphones into work to listen to TMS, it is for me one of the most intense, deep, engaging sporting spectacles in the world (and having resided in 4 different countries including the US I've seen a few).

    It is not always instant, in your face gratification (although this can occur) but a slowly developing chess match containing numerous subtle battles between batsman, bowler and captain as each seeks the psycological momentum and advantage. I think its brilliant.

    However, most of my friends think I'm mad. Whilst they enjoy a day out at a test match it is for them an excuse to drink all day, consume slightly too much and make a whole bunch of noise. And I have no problem with that. Unlike some old farts (MCC members) - I think it improves the atmosphere at the grounds, and is on the whole good natured and amusing.

    Most of these friends are fairly new to cricket and would only consider watching 20/20 on tv, never a test. And for that reason there is a place, and will always be a place for this shorter version of the game. The audiences may be very different in nature but surely more people watching 20/20 leads to more people willing to give test matches ago.

    The biggest reason that most of my friends dont enjoy watching test match cricket is that they dont undestand its nuiances and subtlties. By being exposed to 20/20 they at least have a base to get involved in cricket, begin to understand its rules and perhaps some of them will learn to further appreciate the longer format.

    Basically, more people watching cricket is a good thing for the health of the game. There is a demand for 20/20 matches that currently exceeds the supply therefore it is fairly logical to increase the number of matches available. Whether 2 concurrent tournaments is the best way to do this I am not sure, but the people making this decision have I'm sure considered all the options and decided that this is the best solution.

    What I am glad at is that they have not introduced this franchise idea which would lead to the rich (ie international grounds) getting richer and leave counties with superb support and much to give, such as Somerset, behind.

    But all in all, i believe there is a place for both formats and therefore do not see the introduction of an EPL as a negative for the game of cricket.

  • Comment number 11.

    Couldn't agree more with the comments above. The EPL is yet one more part of the ruthless and exploitative commercialism that is now the hallmark of the ECB. Rather like the football premiership's ideas on taking an English domestic game abroad, it strikes me the ECB couldn't care less about fans at home - the vast majority of whom care most about test matches. Instead, they are looking almost exclusively to the interests of Indian broadcasters who want to fill their dedicated cricket channels with "exciting" Twenty20, and receiving in return vast sums of money.

    I just hope that the grounds for the EPL begin to empty and that any broadcasting deals suffer as a consequence.

  • Comment number 12.

    i think the basic idea of an EPL would work, but to have two Twenty20 tournaments is too much in my opinion.

    it will be a shame to see Pro40 go, but i suppose is has had its time, and a decent run, but i am worried about replacing it with more Twenty20, eventually people who watch the game for this aspect will become bored with it, and the real cricket fan will be put off by it entirely, so will probably lead to a downturn in Twenty20.

    i also question the need for an IPL system of bringing in outside players, the current tournament is great quality cricket, yet the usual heroes are county regulars, and i fear it is they who will suffer as conciquence!

  • Comment number 13.

    what an absolute discrase the t20 tournament was quality with small groups and they will loose interest in it and something better will come along and replace it. the ecb have been forced into this because of the money coming into cricket.

  • Comment number 14.

    Never seen a 20/20 game, nor do I intend to.

    Going back, remember when 50-over international cricket started? The first few World Cup competitions - how exciting it all was watching Test match superstars in the one day format? The administrators got greedy, played too much of it and the format is dying a contrived death. Amidst all the venue controversy surrounding England's winter tour, a full India tour comprises SEVEN (count em') one-day internationals and just TWO tests. Test match cricket is on its knees, desperately needs pitches with pace and bounce to make the cricket interesting. If I have to sit through another 5 day game on a slow, batsman-friendly pitch I'm gonna scream.

    Once 20/20 takes over, I walk away.

  • Comment number 15.

    In response to 3 im 18 and I watch test cricket ahead of anything else. 20/20 is ok sometimes but becomes very tedious very quickly.
    Cant wait for the test to start tomorrow, im predicting a 2-0 win for England, not so sure about flintoff, but if he plays at his best itl be great. Id love to see simon jones back in the team though.

  • Comment number 16.

    Just about the least surprising headline imaginable:

    "Jonathan Agnew rails against Twenty20"

    It's not worth reading an article written by you about Twenty20, so visceral has been your hatred of the format.

    I don't think you've done three minutes of commentary all summer, regardless of what format of cricket was being played, without letting the world know how much you hate it and how the only thing you like is Test cricket . . . etc

    Maybe this article was insightful and brilliantly written, thoughtful and wise, but you've tainted any presumption of impartiality, so I just didn't bother reading it.

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't think twenty20 and test match cricket can be compared as they are completely different that is why i feel all this talk of twenty20 killing test match cricket is nonsense. People haven't been watching county test match cricket for years because it's played at times when most people are working. Twenty20 makes cricket more accessible and will introduce people to cricket that wouldn't have watched it before which can only be a good thing.

    However 2 tournaments with a league format is too much. If they really want 2 tournaments then I feel they should keep the epl but then run an fa cup style twenty20 tournament alongside it.

    As for the 9 team franchise idea i'm glad they scrapped this and kept the county structure but twenty20 could incorporate some of the more positive aspects of the ipl such as player auctioning.

    As it currently stands the epl just seems like an extended twenty20 competition therefore i suggest that every team is sponsored (ie £1.5m each) and the money is used to bid for up to 3 overseas players. The money would not be used as the player's wages as this might cause a divide between the county players and the overseas players. It would simply be used for the purpose of the auctioning to set a limit on what a team can spend and then the team can spend the money as they wish.

    To expand on the above any player selected in the epl could not play in the ipl as there might be problems with who plays for who in the champions league.

    As i suggest they scrap the twenty20 tournament as it stands at the moment, then teams would qualify for the champions league from the epl. Since it is split into 2 leagues of 10 then why not have the team who finishes top of the first division automatically qualifies and the next four play-off to decide the other place. Two teams would be relegated each season and then in the second division the team who finishes top gets promoted and the next 4 play-off to see who goes up with them. This makes the league very competitive since there is much to play for.

    Hope you like my thoughts on this.

  • Comment number 18.

    In response to post #3:

    Myself and many of my friends, who are all aged around 21-22, are all keen followers of cricket, and we would much prefer to go to a day of Test Cricket than to watch a T20 game. Test Cricket is much more interesting for us on the whole.

    As a Lancashire fan, it is sometimes very entertaining to go and watch the Pro40 or T20 games, but this new system would result in complete overkill for fans like me, and possibly for the most avid followers of T20 in this country.

    I sincerely hope that the future of Test Cricket is not in jeopardy, but if other countries follow the trends set in India and this country then it will be a sad day.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just to add (I was post/ramble number two) - I also am 22 and much prefer Test cricket.

    But to emphasise my earlier rant, it would be nice to wtch it on terrestrial television! ECB take heed - your gonna lose the next generation of true cricket fans!

  • Comment number 20.

    Test cricket is already suffering at the hands of the money spinners. It wasn't long ago that a test match was played only once every 2 weeks, giving everyone plenty of time to recover and anticipate the next match, drawing out the contest and exaggerating the drama.

    This year, summer has barely begun and we've already finished one whole series and by next week will be half way through the second. In a couple of weeks, there'll be no more home matches until next year...

    This cramming all the matches into as little time as possible simply devalues the sport and takes away a huge part of why we love it.

    Whatever happened to those endless summers of cricket????

  • Comment number 21.

    Thanks Aggers, for this perceptive piece of journalism on a very important proposal for change. Reading between the lines and bearing in mind your very responsible and visible role, I suspect you are being extremely diplomatic and moderate in your comments, and that your real feelings are much more radical, ones that we would all agree with.

    I don't think test cricket is in jeopardy and I agree we should milk Twenty20 for as much money as we can, as it is badly needed in the game. The danger is that control may be handed over to pure commercial interests, which may have little interest in the game aside from the money it generates, for them.

    This may be a watershed in the history of English cricket and the decisions about to be taken will affect the future of the sport in England for a very long time. Few of us, I think, would be confident that the game's administrators will take decisions in the best interests of the game and its loyal followers. They don't have a very good record in that respect.

    So it is incumbent upon people like you, Aggers, to make their voice heard very loudly if they think that control of the game is being handed over to faceless commercial interests. The chance may not come again.

  • Comment number 22.

    There is one thing over all this and that is SKY! They will clean up, yet again, at the expense of others. It is a shame as any format of this glorious sport is at the mercy of those "highest bidders".

    Channel 4 had fantastic coverage of the Test Series but was lost to SKY. It now looks as if, along with the one-day game, so too will the new twenty20 league.

    What a shame as I though cartels and monopolisation was done away with.

    The ultimate game of cricket is the Test Series for those who understand this game.

  • Comment number 23.

    I know I am not alone in finding 20/20 a pathetic travesty of the real game of cricket.
    Amongst all the other cultural changes which make modern life more and more depressing, the rapid disintegration of the great game into yet another money spinner, aimed at that section of society with the attention span of root vegetables, is the saddest.
    When, all around us, the world seems to be getting madder and madder, we are in danger of losing that oasis of sporting sanity and intrigue, which is the traditional game.
    I hope 20/20 burns itself out, but my fear is that cricket as a whole will be found in the cinders.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think that 20twenty needs to stop playing terrible, tuneless, irrelevant music after each decision and choose something a lot more relevant and actually about this fantastic sport. Like this This needs to be played on TMS at lunch or tea. Really i think the England team should play it to themselves before they start play.

  • Comment number 25.

    The new EPL is purely about making money. If that money goes into improving facilites, coaching, grassroots etc. then thats all well and good. EPL becomes a necessary evil.

    Aggers, I was under the impression that EPL and the other Twenty20 competition would not be running simultaneously? Hence the EPL takes a solid block of 1 month where all we get is T20 played by teams under a county banner with a slightly high(er) number of overseas stars obtained via auction (hence raising a bucketload of cash from TV on the subcontinent), and the other competition is for 'proper' county teams selected from their squad of 'home' (and Kolpak) players plus two overseas professionals.

    I think that for the EPL, counties should have to nominate a squad of sixteen, which includes twelve of their normal squad (including 10 England qualified players) and they can have, say 4 other players bought in especially and exlusively for the EPL via auction. Each XI has to contain at least 6 players qualified to play for England. This keeps the quality/spectacle high, allows space for the best overseas players (presumably if the money is there no country will schedule a test series while EPL is going on, much like with the IPL). It also gives potential England one day players the experience of playing against top quality opposition and, although I vastly prefer Test cricket to one day, we have to remember that there are two one day World Cup competitions that I'd actually like to see England do well in some day....

    Counties will think about this setup when signing their two overseas professionals for the 'county' season and make sure that they are available for the EPL, making it unliklely that a player will play for two counties in a season (and if counties go for one day sp[ecialists as their overseas players, then it opens opportunities for homegrown players in the 4-day game - better preparation for the Test side). England qualified players who are left out of the EPL squad have added motivation in the 'domestic' T20 competition which follows through the remainder of the summer.

    Having said all of that, there are still worries about the amount of T20 being played, the amount of cricket being played (KP thinks there's too much, although oddly he would have been willing tospend an extra six weeks playing the the heat of the subcontinent?), player burnout and where the Tests fit in. the schedule should be built round teh showcase which is Test cricket, we shoudln't be fitting in Test series in April and September to accommodate the mental chewing gum which is Twenty20.

  • Comment number 26.

    One thing seems to have been forgotten. The fledgling EPL will clash with the football World Cup in South Africa. We all know how hysterically the country reacts if there is any chance of England staggering to the later rounds. The EPL will be drowned at birth if it goes head to head with this. Terrestial television will show soccer every night, the advertisers will flock to the football on terrestial and the pubs will be wall to wall football. The dates for 2010 must be changed or disaster beckons.

  • Comment number 27.

    Cricket is the greatest of all games, and Test cricket is its finest form.
    Aaron95 is right to warn of the dangers it faces from 20/20. He also makes the point that Test match crowds contain few young people.
    I have attended two Test matches in England during the last year. On both occasions there were large number of young people in the crowd, and they seemed absorbed by the game.
    I would be interested to read other people's views in relation to this matter.
    Is it the general feeling that Test matches in England are watched principally by people
    over 50?
    It certainly isn't my impression.

  • Comment number 28.

    ECB? It seems to me it's rapidly becoming the ASCB - Allen Stanford Cricket Board.

    It is amazing the rapidity with which English cricket has sold its soul. :-(

  • Comment number 29.

    Isn't bringing money into the game of Cricket a good thing?

    Which form of the game are you more likely to get more people to watch in terms of the counties? 20:20 and Pro 40, becasue they can have day night games and you dont have to put a whole day out to watch it, you can go along after work and have a good evening watching a great game.

    You see more people turning up to 20:20 games than to County Championship matches. Is bringing people in to watch the game and bringing money in to the sport a good thing?

  • Comment number 30.

    The latest test match fizzled out into complete boredom. And not even the rain was this time to blame. Perhaps some more aggressive, imaginative declarations by either party would have helped. BTW: a sure sign of boredom is when the TMS commentators start talking about most other things except what is happening on the pitch. A few more matches like this (probably rain interrupted) and the series will turn out a wash-out. Test match cricket is killing itself!

  • Comment number 31.

    The so-called re-structure of english cricket is a fudge and a shambles, but what else should we expect from the ECB? If the appetite for 20-20 is so great that it has to take over half the season, I am going to start watching other sports.

    One of these days, people are going to wake up and realize what a load of rubbish 20-20 is. It teaches young players that all they have to do is to try to slog every ball for 6. This is NOT cricket. It's just the equivalent of a knockabout on Blackpool beach. In fact, I'm a bit surprised they haven't got rid of grass pitches and transported the whole thing to the seaside and be done with it.

    Where are the young bowlers going to come from? What kid is going to say 'I want to be a bowler, and get smashed for 24 an over...?'

    I have grown up watching Lancashire and England, and have always enjoyed my summers mostly because I love cricket. But if this 'blueprint' is the future of cricket, I for one will not be watching it.

    Money is taking over, and will ruin cricket in the same way as it has done to football. It's very sad.

  • Comment number 32.

    I notice most people here are talking about test cricket. The thing is you don't mind taking a day off work to watch England play either one day or test match but how many people will use their holiday to watch county cricket?

    The great thing about Twenty20 is that you can actually watch a game of cricket after work with a few beers, a full house and a good atmosphere.

    There is also a lot of comments about "selling out" to Sky. Sky are in a unique position in the fact they have dedicated sports channel so that can show more cricket than you would ever see terrestially and surely the money they pump into cricket has to be a good thing?

  • Comment number 33.

    A sure fire indication that 20/20 is entertaining ( to the masses) is that my wife watches it both on the tv and she has even been along to watch it live.
    Now as to whether it is actually *cricket* is another story altogether.
    You will never replace test cricket as a strategic game over five days, but for a bit of fun after work 20/20 is just the ticket.

  • Comment number 34.

    what people have forgotten about all this is the players. the main reason that ECB has had to come up with this is to stop the best players going to India and playing there. at the end of what you would you rather do? play a four-day game and have to use your skil and get paid peanuts or go to india live in a nice holiday and play a 4 hour game where you dont really need skill as such just the ability to hit the ball really hard for 20 overs and get paid a forture. so all those people who complain about the future of test cricket ask your self this, if someone came up to you today and said i am going to give you more money to do an easier job would you take it? of course everyone would. at the end of the day if the cricketing Authorities want to save test match cricket then they should look at paying their players more money.

  • Comment number 35.

    #32: money and the 'spirit of cricket' don't mix however.

  • Comment number 36.

    I too worry that there will be too much 20/20 cricket. I think there is just about enough as it is. The real problem as I see it is that at the moment there is not that much international 20/20 cricket played. What happens when 20/20 really takes off at the level? Could it be that the crowds to county matches would dwindle?

    As regards impact, I think it far more likely that the 50 over game will disappear rather than Test cricket. 50 over cricket can go through really dull periods in mid innings.

    Test cricket and 20/20 are like Chess and speed chess. The true test of ability is Test Cricket. It is a far more cerebral and satisfying game. How can 20/20 possibly match the drama of test cricket? Ask yourself - at the end of the summer how do you judge success? Not by who won the 20/20 or one dayer's, but by who won the Test series. And how much do you remember about one dayer's afterwards? Test matches live in the memory.

    And at the end of the season I'd still rather win the County Championship than any one day or 20/20 tournament.

  • Comment number 37.

    Number 32:

    Its not SKY pumping money into cricket that is the issue. Them showing more county cricket can only be a good thing, though how much money the counties receive as a result of this is debatable.

    The point is that International cricket, the pinnicle of the sport, should be shown on free-to-air TV. The whole 'dedicated sports channels' argument is true - but you have to pay alot of money for them, something alot of the nation just can't afford to do.

  • Comment number 38.

    #37, I agree with your point but I would go further: the vast majority of Sky Sports subscribers are football fans. This is only logical, since by far the greatest expense in running the channel is premier league football.

    This means that any other sport on Sky Sports is just picking up the scraps from football's table. You'll never get dedicated supporters from Sky, because subscribers will never abandon their first love, football.

    I for one would love to watch Premiership rugby and international cricket, but I'm not prepared to subsidise football for the privilege.

  • Comment number 39.

    One of the Franchises should be called The Rampant Roses; AKA Lancashire and Yorkshire. Probably wipe allcomers.

  • Comment number 40.

    Normally Aggers speaks with a great deal of common sense and authority on such matters but, dare we think that his old County allegancies are showing through in the EPL debate.
    One would do well to read Andrew Miller's excellent comments on Cricinfo, and he is dead right when he says that once again the self-interested, nay-saying County chairman have stifled all debate on a proposal that could have been win-win for all concerned.
    Win for the smaller counties, in that they get what they all blatantly crave--money, and potentially lots of it.
    Win for spectators, who would have seen 9 teams, packed with the very best English players, augmented by up to 27 (3 each) of the very best overseas talent all played out in packed, International standard, arenas.
    One can only imagine how it can be called a "Premier" League when it contains two divisions and 20 teams !!! Yet again quality sacrificed at the altar of quantity and mediocrity.
    If 8 teams are good enough for a country of 1.2 billion people (India) with an insatiable appetite for cricket, why then are 20 teams needed for a country with a 1/5th of the population and only a marginal interest in the game.
    The answer clearly lies in the shortsightedness and blatant self interest of the Counties.
    To quote Miller, they may not only have cooked the golden goose but neutered the gander in the process.

  • Comment number 41.

    1/20th of course !!

  • Comment number 42.

    The reason 20-20 is popular is because it is more accesable. people can go to a match after work that is generally exciting and finishes at a reasonable time. The cricket ourists dislike it because in many respects this sort of action isn't cricket but you can't balme the clubs when they get full houses for these games and small attendances for others.

    I love watching test cricket but find it difficult to do so in terms of conflicting work and family commitments. 20-20 fits in with the 21st century and whilst it will ultimately make the game more popular, it will also change it. If you love the game it must be hard to witness this but unfortuantely it's inevitable.

  • Comment number 43.

    we've got to much of the 20/20;it'll do for the social spectator but we still need the game in the pure form as when the 20's start they will be the rage but the T.V.scene will soon take over

  • Comment number 44.

    With all this talk about a new twenty20 league, this may be a problem for some smaller clubs. My local club northants at the moment can only play twenty20 games earlier in the evening as we cannot afford flood lights or that what we have been told. With a new twenty20 league will this mean that the games that sometimes go on after dark will be held at non peak times and there for not be accessible for all where as the flood lit games which can start later always have a better atmosphere as we can fit more people into our tiny ground. I was just wondering how this new league will affect the smaller clubs who cannot afford the floodlights and media coverage that the larger clubs enjoy. we are twenty20 quarter finalists and some of my friends and i are worried about the affect of the new league on the smaller clubs as the twenty20 games are nearly always in the evenings where as the pro40 usually start around lunch time.

  • Comment number 45.

    The current debate of Test Match cricket versus 20 20 ignores the reality of a Darwinian process of survival of the fittest.Test Match cricket will fade away in spite of the purists best intentions.
    Just look at billiards--the game is dead except in the minds of a few die-hards. Snooker and Pool have replaced it.
    Test Match cricket is dead--long live 20 20.

  • Comment number 46.

    I suppose on a blog that attracts such a dispropotionate number of cricket diehards, it's not surprising that hyperbolic and, in my view, ludicrously overstated paens to the virtues of Test Cricket are to be found. To describe a game as "the greatest of them all" is, by it's very nature, a highly subjective judgement. Much better to say that it is a game "I greatly prefer", thereby leaving others to make more objective and, quite possibly, more balanced assessments about its merits. I enjoy cricket, although there are other games I prefer, both to play and watch, but I'm starting to detect a streak of zealotry amongst cricket lovers, some of whom brook no dissent and spit out venemous disdain towards other sports (usually football, from what I can see).
    Let me put a slightly more subjective and sober view about the game. The legendary, soon to become mythical, I suspect, 2005 Ashes series wasn't typical Test Cricket. It was about as good as Test Cricket gets, but it was untypical of much of what you'll see in the world of international cricket. A lot of it, it has to be said, is attritional, drab and almost dispiriting to watch, totally bereft of the essential qualities that make a sport worth watching (i.e. drama, special skill, athleticism, grace, style, tension etc etc). Try tuning in to Sky TV and watch Sri Lanka v New Zealand or West Indies v Pakistan or Bangladesh v India. Most of it is ghastly stuff played out in front of tiny audiences in soulless empty stadiums. Test Cricket, the greatest sport on the planet? I don't think so.

  • Comment number 47.

    I don't see a problem with the T20 tournaments, but what concerns me is that all these so called countries are dedicating more and more time to this form of the game, when they should be spending their time and energy improving the ultimate form of the sport, which is test cricket.

    T20 is a fantastic way to get youngsters into the game, but let's also think about the associate countries who dream about playing 4 day and full test matches. The ODI and T20 market should be geared towards these teams, as it could generate some pretty good results.

  • Comment number 48.

    Aggers -
    County Champs - why does this need to remain "intact, and even more than that, how can it "remain..robust". It's not even robust to begin with. It's unpopular, almost fraudulent considering England fans (and an overgenerous Sky and Vodafone) are paying through the nose for hundreds of top sportsmen to play infront of two old men and a dog six days a week. How long will this last?

    40-overs: why not comment on the absurdity that the counties persisted with it?

    City-based EPL's not got anything to do with 18 county geographical spread and you know it. City-based game would work - cities are where most modern Britons' loyalty lies - ECB should conduct market research on whole population not existing county cricket fans. They're missing out on a huge market (the broad 'England' market).

    18 county geographical spread required for England selection - nonsense! Football and baseball teams find players all over the world. Maybe counties could locate them all over ENgland, if they had any money and lots of people were actually playing the sport. Counties don't reflect population centres in any case. So all you're saying is you like things the way they are.

    Terms like "hell-bent" make you sound very snobby. Shurely money helps promote the game. Do you not like big crowds spoiling your private show?

    Totally agree two comps is crazy and on scheduling issues. But you can see what they're trying to do - one comp marketable for global TV + T20 through most of the season because it's more popular. Personally I would stick to a season-long comp and make sure counties had same players throughout season, grow the game in this country and you'll get the TV eventually.

    What you ignore is Buckland's point, and anyone else with any common sense - if the aim is to promote the game of cricket in England and Wales, the best way of doing so is with free-to-air TV. If you got rid of half the counties, then you could keep free-to-air.

    Personally I think T20 is the future. It's a better game, every ball counts. It's a proper sport - about aggression - not defence and people losing patience and making mistakes. Raj Royals showed it's about bowling. I think bowling will actually get better with T20. Test cricket's just a form of meditation for alcoholics, anoraks and depressives and nobody who works can watch it. OK - there are a lot of these in England, so you could carry on doing it for 10 years or so, but it's not really what the general public wants.

    The sport will never survive if it's only as big as England. It's boring watching the same players play non-stop all over the world round the year. The local clubs should be the focus, but you need a decent product. Long-term, have city-based T20 league and T20 cup, like football - then you'll see cricket's natural appeal as a beautiful bat-and-ball sport come to the fore. It's going to happen anyway, if the sport doesn't die out in this country beforehand - thanks to the kind of unimaginative backward thinking you're advocating, Aggers.

  • Comment number 49.

    INDIAN PREMIER LEAGUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    I'd wager that within 5-10 years everyone willl be bored with 20/20 and that the status quo of test matches and 50 over games will be restored


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