The shortest version of cricket (20 Overs a side or T-20) made its debut in England in 2003, to attract and entertain spectators in three hours.
This version received an impetus in 2007, when India won the inaugural World Cup match in Johannesburg.
Indian Premier League (IPL), which also commenced in 2007, made T-20 cricket dominant on the Cricket calendar, with various teams owned by Indian corporate houses and film stars.
T-20 has evolved into a game of more than slam-bam hitting.
It is now an even contest between the bat and the ball, where a lot of thinking, planning and practise go into achieving desired results.
T-20 cricket has helped attract a new legion of fans to the game.
Improved financial standing results in more resources channelled towards development of grassroots cricket and improving infrastructure.
Many national T-20 cricket leagues have spawned on IPL lines.
Incentives to players
These act as a good platform for national players, learn from international players in their sides, display their talents, and aspire to become national players.
This version of cricket also places greater emphasis on fielding and fitness.
Consequently, the present generation of cricketers is proving to be better athletes and fielders.
T-20 cricket has its share of critics as well. It has been accused of overcrowding an already exhausting cricket calendar for players. According to critics, incessant cricket has led to decline in public interest and player standards.
They say that today’s cricketers have limited ability and cannot concentrate for long because of the influence of T-20.
Many modern cricketers do not have the drive and desire to play test cricket for their countries; they are easily satiated by the visibility and financial cushion T-20 provides.
When players choose to play T-20 League Cricket over matches, it leads to a bad taste in the mouth for the average fan.
However, T-20 is here to stay.
What is needed is careful restructuring of cricket schedules, which do not overkill.
In addition, cricket authorities must continue to emphasise that Test Cricket is placed on top.
It is equally important to weed out corruption and match fixing.
These measures will ensure that sanctity of the game is preserved, and Cricket thrives as a gentleman’s game.