Friday, June 20, 2008

Twenty20. Where's the tragedy?

To Lords yesterday evening. We were invited to a hospitality box to enjoy champagne, dinner and the lengthening rays of the sun over the loveliest lawn in the world. (Thanks, Chris.) The match was a Twenty20 encounter between Middlesex and Sussex. The first time I saw one of these games it was between England and the West Indies at the Oval and there was plenty of hitting the ball out of the ground, the sort of thing the marketing men love.

This one was a walkover for Middlesex. They batted first and Sussex never looked like making their total. This meant that the match was more of a non-event than even the least eventful traditional game of cricket could ever be. The beauty of cricket is the tension. This had none. Obviously the world game is now being reorganised in the light of the success of Twenty20 and you can see the reasons why, not least that people can turn up after work and get home in time for News At Ten. But I wonder whether a game can develop in the long run if it doesn't have that essential drama.

All the great world games have a tragic dimension that keep us coming back. Rugby is like war in that momentum is all. In the sense that the defences nearly always win, football is like life. In Test cricket even the greatest reputation can be undone through a microsecond of miscalculation. Golf is man against himself. And so on. But Twenty20? It's a laugh, which is a good thing now, but it's not enough in the long run.


  1. Anonymous10:15 am

    I'm in two mind about this - I see the value and merit of 20/20 because it is breathing new life and interest into the game, but then didn't the Ashes series win do the same thing?

    My problem with it is there doesn't seem any room for guile and artistry.

    Very good Test players are already deemed too profligate as bowlers or too slow-scoring as batsmen (viz Cook, Strauss, Panesar and Harmison), and my fear is that this gap will only widen.

    I wonder if the likes of Graham Thorpe would survive in 20/20 where nurdling ones and twos is seen as too slow - and yet he was one of England's most prized one-day players 10 years ago.

    I liken it, in some ways to penalty shoot-outs in football: they're a high-tension way of settling matches, but you wouldn't want to watch shoot-outs and only shoot-outs, would you?

  2. Anonymous8:16 pm

    It's like rugby sevens. If you have too many tries they don't give you the same thrill. Same with boundaries in 20-20.

    And on top of that, half the crowd seem to think it's just an excuse to get rat-arsed, which is bad enough at test matches, but at 20-20 they cram all their drinking into 3 hours.

    I really hope 20-20 dies a quick death. I'm encouraged that crowds are already apparently down this year.

  3. Anonymous10:23 am

    The majority of 20/20 matches that I’ve seen the drama has most definitely been there. Sure, you’re going to get a few one-sided non-events, but that’s the same in Test cricket. Can anybody recall the thrilling series between Australia and Bangladesh or India and Zimbabwe – complete rubbish in terms of cricket.
    Was at Headingley on Wednesday evening to watch Yorkshire and Lancashire – it was a classic game, going down to the wire. And the return game last night was equally as thrilling from the view from the armchair.
    Great to see cricket grounds packed for county games and the amount of families going to the 20/20 games is really encouraging.
    It’s a great time to be a Yorkshire fan at the moment as well...

  4. I agree with Stef, there can be plenty of drama in Twenty20. I found the World Cup very enjoyable, much more so than the very dull Rugby World Cup. The problem is that you have to take a lot of risks, which can result in teams falling very cheaply. This can be a real problem with teams batting first who can go for very low scores which then takes the pressure off the team batting second and effectively kills the game. Twenty20 is still in its infancy and maybe needs a couple of tweaks of the rules and perhaps for players to adapt a bit more to make it more consistantly competitive.