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Twenty20 branded a huge success

Twenty20 cricket made a spectacular debut in Perth today, with the first sold-out crowd in more than 20 years packing into the WACA to see Western Australia beat Victoria.

Twenty20 cricket made a spectacular debut in Perth today, with the first sold-out crowd in more than 20 years packing into the WACA to see Western Australia beat Victoria.

Officials shut the gates within 35 minutes of the first delivery as the 20-overs-per-side contest, a huge success in England, made its first foray into the Australian market.

Judging on today's preliminary crowd figure of 20,071, the game has a place in the Australian landscape, much to the chagrin of cricket purists. It remains to be seen, however, whether the crowd was merely a one-off, intrigued by the new concept, or a sign of things to come.

Either way, the cash-strapped WACA enjoyed its first sold-out cricket match since a one-day contest between Australia and the West Indies in 1981. WA won the match by eight wickets, with Luke Ronchi smashing a quickfire 67 from just 24 balls.

The 23-year-old at one stage belted five sixes from 10 deliveries, his half-century came off just 20 balls. Western Australia reached 2-143 in only 12.1 overs in reply to Victoria's 8-141. But the result was a virtual after-thought to a crowd that arrived hoping to see big-hitting and plenty of wickets from both sides.

With each bowler allowed just four overs and new batsmen given 90 seconds to get to the crease, Twenty20 cricket is yet another shortening of the game following the advent of one-day cricket more than 25 years ago.

With matches lasting just three hours, the abridged game has attracted a new breed of fans in the UK, with sell-out crowds a regular occurrence. The biggest crowd in English county cricket history turned out to watch the final of the inaugural Twenty20 season in 2003 between Surrey and Warwickshire at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.

And it was a similar story in Perth tonight.

One woman, who intended to re-join her family after parking the family car, was denied entry by officials, who turned scores of people away from the ground.

Shane Warne's participation didn't hurt the impressive crowd figure although he was smashed by the WA batsmen, finishing with 1-32 from 2.1 overs. The visitors won the toss and chose to bat, reaching a competitive 8-141 from their 20 overs.

Rookie Adam Crosthwaite top-scored for the Bushrangers with 57 from just 46 balls, while Peter Worthington finished with 2-40 from his four overs for the Warriors. Ronchi and Ryan Campbell (56 not out) then produced a scintillating century stand from just 56 balls to steer the Warriors home.

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