The introduction and subsequent explosion of Twenty20 cricket onto the international stage saw radical shifts in the nature of all forms of the game. The smash and dash three hour time slot of the game has given rise to new innovate and risky strokes, clever and unique strategies, as well as giving Test cricket a much needed spark. However, T20 cricket brought about one thing: money.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) was probably the first major tournament which raised the profile of the format incredibly. With that though came some extraordinarily high contracts-all for just a six week season. Before this tournament, T20 cricket had been played as more of an entertainment game, rather than “serious.” The NSW cricket team recruited formy Rugby League player Andrew Johns to join them in the 2006-2007 T20 season. Australia played New Zealand in retro clothing.
T20 cricket has also become a big platform for older cricket stars to continue their career, who have retired from one day and/or test cricket. Due to the short nature of the game, the stress of playing for three hours at night, and a much smaller training schedule, gives their bodies more of a rest. And adding T20 matches into almost every tour schedule, in addition to tests and one-day cricket, has created hectic schedules and calendars for all international teams.
Before T20 cricket really made a mark on the cricketing world, there was a lot of talk that the dullness of watching or playing for six or seven hours per day, 5 days per week, was too slow to enjoy. Then came the big guns: Adam Gilchrist’s century off just 57 balls against England in 2006 was huge. And since then, there has been numerous instances of big scores and bags of wickets. And the players have been a big catalyst.
As the traditional form of cricket, or the “gentleman’s game” as it has been termed, Test cricket will never see the axe. Twenty20 cricket, while being a very entertaining game, is also giving rise to new strategies. With the short innings, players (with either the bat or ball), can change a game in only a few short minutes. Now, we’re seeing players such as South African superstar Dale Steyn tearing into batting line-ups. That’s entertainment.
Has Twenty20 changed the cricketing landscape? Yes. Has it affected Test cricket? Yes. To the point of it dying? Not a chance. Five day cricket tests a players ability to perform either standing under the hot sun, or sweating under a helmet. Twenty20 cricket has changed the landscape for the better. And it’s getting serious.