Twenty20 Cricket World Cup – India’s Cup of Tea?
The Twenty20 Cricket World Cup kicks-off in South Africa today, but, somehow, I am not half as excited about this than I was about India’s tour of England.
The ICC has been playing to the galleries for a long time now in the name of making the game more popular/exciting. What the galleries like is quite simple to understand: 4s and 6s. Therefore, the rules have been bending in favour of the batsmen. The 15 over fielding restriction introduced a decade back has now been increased to 20 overs and given a new name, Power Play. In reality, it gives more power to the batting side and is not a strategic tool to the fielding captain. Most of the time, he just wants to get rid of the power play overs asap!
The Twenty20 format only seems to be taking this concept further. In addition to the field restriction, there’s the ‘no-ball free hit penalty’. Can’t help feeling bad for the bowlers. But for the spectator there’s a whole lot of eye candy in addition to the 4s and 6s being plundered.
This format was developed in England to counter the falling popularity of Cricket which was losing out to Football. Amount of time spent by the spectator at the stadium seems to be the driving factor and Football seems to have set the standard. People don’t want to stay in the stadium for more than 3-4 hours. No wonder it has become quite popular in England. It’s also doing well in South Africa and Australia where Rugby, similar to Football, gives the longer version of the game quite a run for its money. Compare this to the situation in India where Cricket is the most watched game and things turn slightly awry. Indians love the One Day format. Essentially because India has historically done better in this form of the game than in the longer version. Our greatest achievement, the World Cup of 1983, came through the ODI format.
So, is it too early for Twenty20 in India, well, time will tell but I do feel that it’s too early for the format to have a World Cup in its name. This is because not all the teams have got used to it. Look at India, it has played only one International Twenty20 match so far. Others have played many more. And this is sure to affect India’s chances in South Africa.
The ICC seems to be using the Twenty20 World Cup more as a tool to popularise the new format itself.