Hating on Twenty20

Alex Massie may be a bit too harsh on Twenty20, but I think his conclusion is spot-on:

Indeed, all the noise and colour associated with the Twenty20 “spectacle” is a clue to its essential emptyness: you need all this nonsense to distract the audience and prevent it from realising that that there’s very little that’s interesting actually happening on the pitch. High church cricket fans might be depressed if the game were sold to an abbreviated format that was, nonetheless, superior to the traditional forms of the game, but it’s quite another thing entirely for the game to be bought and soldto promote a markedly inferior, less compelling, less textured and varied form of cricket. And yet that is where our current masters are taking us. It is madness.

I’d only add a brief amendment to Massie’s argument. One of the big joys of Test cricket’s interminable length is that it allows the audience to keep the game in a pleasant background. You go to watch the game, obviously, but you also go to relax, read a book, and have the general hum-drum of leather and wood around you.

Twenty20, however, is the opposite: it’s an all-out assault on the senses. Even if the on-field action doesn’t include a boundary or a wicket, there’s music, cheerleaders, interviews, and the like. You just can’t look away, even if you want to. It’s really not cricket at all, but hyper-entertainment.

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2 thoughts on “Hating on Twenty20

  1. Ron says:

    I always thought one of the really awesome things about the sport of cricket was that there are three very different formats that can be watched in completely different ways. Test cricket, I always like to have the match on even when I’m doing other things, and watch a few overs here and there or when my favorite batsman or bowler is in action. ODI’s, well, they suffer from the problem that half of them are completely over with two hours left, and you really need to watch the whole game to get the full experience, so it’s sort of disappointing. Twenty20 is more like football or baseball, which is probably why most true cricket fans don’t appreciate it much, but I think it has its place.

    I don’t agree that T20 somehow requires less skill than Test cricket. Certainly there are different skills required, which may not have much relation to how cricket has been played historically, which leads to the backlash. But the better skilled team is going to do better in the long run in T20 cricket. The beauty of the format is that the shorter game forces more variance in results, giving weaker teams a chance, which makes it more exciting for fans on both sides.

    • duckingbeamers says:

      Thanks for the comment, Ron. Is it true, though, that Twenty20 gives weaker teams a better chance? I don’t think I’ve seen that much variation, other than the recent New Zealand-India series. Then again, perhaps we don’t have a big enough sample to reach a conclusion.

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