The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was in need of another one-day competition to fill its space after the completion of Benson & Hedges Cup, a one-day competition for the counties in England, in 2002. The brains in England were thinking about increasing the popularity of game and attract more crowds in the stadium.
Even though, as a follower of cricket, I never felt that the popularity of 50-over and Test cricket had gone down and thus, it was not quite clear to me about the motive of Stuart Robertson, ECB’s marketing manager, who proposed a 20-over per innings for each team to the County chairmen. Stuart’s proposal won by 11-7 votes and on June 13, 2003, the first official Twenty20 matches were played in English Counties in Twenty20 Cup.
Still, the world was relatively unaware about this format at that time. But, in England, it gained a huge popularity. The first Twenty20 match held at Lord’s on July 15, 2004, between Middlesex and Surrey, attracted a crowd of 27,509, the highest attendance for any county cricket game at the ground, other than a one-day final since 1953. Gradually, the format was tried and tested in Pakistan and Australia, but the biggest power of world cricket, India, still lacked the interest about Twenty20.
If Misbah-ul-Haq not attempted that fatal scoop against Joginder Sharma and holed out to Sreesanth at Johannesburg in the final of inaugural World Twenty20, perhaps, it would have taken more time for BCCI and India to embrace this format. Perhaps, India might not have thought about this format so seriously.
But as soon as soon MS Dhoni lifted the trophy in a festive environment at Wanderers in 2007, it triggered a profitable-wave in the brains of the think-tank of BCCI and businessmen in India. The majority in India, including some of the renowned cricket commentators, want the end of Test cricket. India, a nation renowned for the worshippers of classic cricket, has now been blinded by a taamasha named the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) whose pseudo-glamour and late night parties seem more important than five-day matches.
England started the concept of Twenty20 and at the hands of BCCI and Indian businessmen, it transformed into a tool of making cash. The Cricket Boards of other countries also want to taste the flavour of this new and crazy money-making machine and thus, circus shows like Bangladesh Premier League, Big Bash league, Caribbean Premier League and Pakistan Super League started their journey.
The moderate thinkers of the game welcome change, but a moderate and sensible thinker of the game cannot accept those changes, which are extremely harmful to the health of the game. Since this format named Twenty20 emerged, at first, I welcome this, but within two or three years, I discovered, this format is nothing but a disease. A disease which is spreading like aggressive cancer.
Why would I accept a disease?
Surely, the great WG Grace’s soul is not happy.
Twenty20 has not only hampered the classic flavour of the game, but most importantly, it has established a platform for match-fixing and spot-fixing.
ED Hawkins in his book “Bookie Gambler and Spy” has written: Lord Condon, the first head of ACSU, claiming that the introduction of Twenty20 Cricket – especially the Indian Premier League – which launched in 2008 – had reinvigorated the corruptors. Condon, still in service, said in the summer of 2009 that the ‘hit and giggle’ format represented the biggest challenge to the integrity of cricket for ten years. He may as well have added, in the case of IPL, disparate groups of players signed to franchises to whom they had no loyalty or sense of belonging”.
It’s never an easy task to fix a Test match. As it requires a huge amount of patience and study to understand the intricacies of five-day matches. Above all, it requires enough time to follow the twist and turns of Test matches. So the shorter the format, the easier it is to play the game of spot-fixing and thus, since the commencement of Twenty20 and it’s Leagues, spot-fixing has become a must practice unofficially.
While the International Cricket Council (ICC) continuously assures about maintaining the dignity of the game, a bunch of lusty cricket officials, bookmakers, businessmen and so-called media personalities and celebrities just continue to come up with new sort of rubbishes to dent the integrity of the game.
The name of the new joke is T10 Cricket League. According to the Australian, “Virender Sehwag, Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi and Kumar Sangakkara have all signed for the Ten Cricket League, which will feature eight subcontinental themed franchises: Team Punjabis, Team Pakhtoons, Team Maratha, Team Banglas, Team Lankans, Team Sindhis and Team Keralites. Former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq and brilliant Bangladesh Test allrounder Shakib Al Hasan will also feature in the tournament.
Games last 90 minutes, the tournament is done in a matter of days and fans are advised to be seated on time lest they miss an innings or a match”.
— ARY News (@ARYNEWSOFFICIAL) October 3, 2017
Already, the world cricket has suffered a lot due to Twenty20 and now what would T10 inject? If Twenty20 format is like cancer then T10 would be equivalent to AIDS. Isn’t it a fertile platform to fix more matches and earn more cash? What hurt me more when I saw some of the greats of the game to endorse this concept and left praising about it. And I certainly, experienced an anginal pain when I read the name of Shakib Al Hasan.
Now, here is a player who requested Bangladesh Cricket Board for a break from Test series against South Africa despite taking lesser workloads than Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali. But he won’t be exhausted playing nano cricket and limited-overs formats. The travelling, parties and endorsements etc. etc. won’t exhaust the best allrounder. Isn’t it too funny?
While the South African pacers devastated Bangladesh in Potchefstroom, Shakib’s name flashed in sports websites – He is one of the iconic players of this joke of a format. Kumar Sangakkara, Virender Sehwag or Misbah-ul-Haq are retired and don’t have the responsibility of serving the nation, but Shakib is not yet a retired cricketer. He must not forget, Test cricket is still the platform where legends are born. Being one of his fans, I always want to see him end his career as one of the legends of the game but not a cartoon character who prefers playing nano cricket more.
When Twenty20 was unleashed, none ever thought, it would transform into a malignant tumour. Its metastasis has been fast and still, no appropriate treatment is discovered to treat this aggressive cancer. Now, the commencement of T10 might lead the cricketing world to experience a new disease named AIDS, the treatment of which is an uphill task. A patient experiences a cruel death due to the decrease of CD4 lymphocytes.
In the gullies of Dhaka, we used to play ten or five overs a side cricket matches in 80s and 90s. This practice is still active. Those were fun, but never could be termed as the ideal format of the game. How justified is it to brand a gully cricket? Can batting or bowling one and half hours to two hours judge the technique and temperament of a cricketer? Isn’t bowling two or four overs a joke? Isn’t the battle between batsmen vs batsmen a sick thing to witness day after day?
Already, Test cricket is affected badly by Twenty20 – a batsman cannot spend a long time at the wicket, the flow of quality pacers have dried out, bowlers don’t swing the ball, spinners concentrate on accuracy more than turn and above all, role models like Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Don Bradman, Sir Vivian Richards, Michael Holding, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Arjuna Ranatunga, Allan Border etc. are missing. Meanwhile, the 50-over format seems to be losing its shine day by day.
The below-average players are ruling the roost in world cricket which was unthinkable in 80s and 90s. Now, if T10 makes a permanent position in the international circuit, it would be alarming for the existence of longer formats and in the end, what would be left is, a show where cash and alcohol flow in plenty with sex and scandals its part and parcel.
William Pollard said, “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow”. Indeed, the International Cricket Council and highly influential cricket boards should not lose their sense and sensibility while discussing T10 cricket. Too much of anything is never good. Along with the devastation of world cricket, the doomsday of respective Cricket Boards and businessmen might also become a reality.