Is Twenty 20 Cricket the future?
We all went Twenty 20 Cricket crazy last year but its unlikely there'll ever be a Twenty 20 Cricket Ashes.
The Twenty20 Cup has been an outstanding success in county cricket but anyone expecting to see England taking on the rest of the world may have a long wait. Speculation the game could transfer to the international scene - maybe even in time for the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy - is, say the authorities, just speculation. Those who doubted the merits of a three-hour game when the tournament was planned have generally been won over by a higher standard of cricket than expected.
Grounds have been packed to almost unprecedented levels, and a new generation of supporters wooed. "I think it could find its way further down the line into international cricket," said Keith Medlycott after his Surrey side had clinched the trophy on Saturday night. "I think it has potential. It's a fabulous new concept."
In the offices of the International Cricket Council (ICC), however, the response is more muted. "There is no suggestion that there will be an international version of Twenty20," ICC spokesman Brendon McClements told the BBC Sport website.
As far as the game's governing body is concerned, Twenty20 is the latest "third generation" game to be introduced to domestic cricket worldwide. New Zealand has Cricket Max, Australia has experimented with Super Eights and India is to launch a one-day competition made up of corporate sides.
Only Cricket Max, and even then on only three occasions, has been played by recognised national teams. Each format has been put in place to bring in a new group of fans, addressing needs in individual countries and acting as a bridge to the established game. England needed a shorter game for the Playstation attention-span and a timeframe that would make it accessible for schoolchildren and office-workers.
But despite the success of the tournament in England, no suggestion has been made to the ICC executive board - made up of representatives of each Test-playing country - to take it further. The argument is a simple 'If it ain't broke don't fix it'. One-day internationals - themselves an artificially shorter version of Tests - still sell out around the world but both Tests and ODIs would have to be cut to bring in a new competition.
With debates already raging over the threat of player burnout, the introduction of another format or tournament is the last thing international schedulers need. The ICC Champions Trophy, a mini-World Cup featuring the top 11 teams on a twice-yearly basis, moves to England in 6 months' time. Unless there is a massive about-turn by the ICC, though, the authorities in England will not be in a position to suggest the world's best play its new game.
But one area where a third generation game might be employed is in countries where the game is only just beginning to take hold, bringing in players and honing skills. You may not be able to watch the Twenty20 Ashes anytime soon, but France against Germany might be closer.
Source - bbc.co.uk
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