Cricket's Fast and Furious Joyride; the Shortest Form of the Game Is in for the Long Haul, Writes Terry Mallinder

The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia), December 19, 2016 | Go to article overview

Cricket's Fast and Furious Joyride; the Shortest Form of the Game Is in for the Long Haul, Writes Terry Mallinder


ADAM Gilchrist admits he could never have predicted Twenty20 cricket becoming the juggernaut it is - perhaps even the game's saving grace.

There was very little faith the reduced format would have the pulling power, and in turn staying power, when it first appeared on the world stage just over a decade ago.

Gilchrist himself played in the first ever T20 international in February 2005, at Auckland's Eden Park, when it was seen as nothing more than a sideshow.

Australian and New Zealand players dressed in retro gear - the Kiwis even sported handlebar moustaches and Aussie paceman Glenn McGrath took to bowling underarm at one point.

"I've got to be totally honest and say I was almost sceptical of the concept when it first came about," Gilchrist told Australian Regional Media.

"I just think because cricket had tried a lot of modified formats (and) each of those previous concepts like six-a-side, Super 8s, things like that, it seemed to compromise the game of cricket too much.

"It meant that it was a big hit and giggle, (and) much more heavily weighted to batting than bowling.

"That could be said of T20. But I think T20 has proven it is still a legitimate format of the game, and there's still high level of skill required to be good at it, but also a great deal of tactical nous and awareness."

Almost built for the game with his swashbuckling style of batting, Gilchrist would later play in the first T20 international on English soil during the memorable 2005 Ashes tour.

"They'd been playing it in county cricket for a few years - they got 180," Gilchrist recalled.

"We just thought '20 overs, you've got to go as hard as you can from the start'. I think we got bowled out for about 70.

"Players have learnt, and viewers have learnt too, that it's not just helter skelter, wild recklessness.

"There is skill and planning that goes into it."

Players - both batsmen and bowlers - have mastered their craft, or resculpted it to suit the needs of such a compact display, with innovative hitting and varying deliveries.

And slowly but surely, T20 has been winning over the traditionalists and staunch Test cricket supporters who were originally dead against further change.

Some were probably still coming to terms with the introduction of 50-overs-a-side "one-dayers".

"I think it is winning over more and more traditionalists because I think they're learning not to ... try to compare T20 cricket to Test cricket and even one-day cricket," said Gilchrist, who played 13 T20Is for Australia in addition to 96 Tests and 287 ODIs.

"They are three different formats and I believe they can all co-exist.

"The question really is just the volume, that's the big thing that needs to be closely monitored."

But as Gilchrist says, perhaps most significantly, T20 cricket - where games are done and dusted in three to four hours - is providing a "really entertaining package that is bringing new people to the game, and that's important to keep cricket healthy across the world".

While T20 has become the new poster child for cricket - and the World T20 championship tournament, rolled out every two years, is a popular addition to the international calendar - it is on the domestic scene that the game has really flourished and captured the imagination of fans, both old and new. …

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