Robertson wary of Twenty20 buzz
Stuart Robertson, the English margeting expert credited with devising the format, has warned administrators not to see it as the end product but more of a means to an end.
Few topics have generated as much discussion in recent months as has Twenty20 cricket. In an echo of the reaction to the introduction of one-day internationals in the early 1970s, some consider it almost blasphemous while others welcome it as a breath of fresh air.
And now Stuart Robertson, the English margeting expert credited with devising the format, has warned administrators not to see it as the end product but more of a means to an end.
"It is just the application of very basic marketing techniques to cricket," Robertson told the Sydney Morning Herald. "When we began researching this, we didn't want the rules to be radically different, because it was intended to be a stepping stone for people to watch the longer versions of cricket.
"It was more a means to an end than an end itself. It was your fun-size Mars bar; a little taste of cricket that, hopefully, would get people who merely tolerated cricket - rather than those who considered themselves fans of the game - to upgrade to one-day and maybe four- and five-day cricket."
It has certainly achieved the first part of its aim. Crowds have flocked to matches in England and South Africa – Lord's was sold out when Middlesex played Surrey last July – and a couple of trial games in Australia last month attracted such large crowds that Cricket Australia, initially skeptical, had little option but to welcome the format into its schedules.
Robertson admitted that he had been surprised by the reaction, but warned that it was important that the format was not treated as a gimic or a joke. "People these days are more cash-rich and time-poor. They need more instant gratification; more of an instant return. So, while there still is a market for the traditional game, if the trend continues you could see things like 50-over games condensing to 40, or Test matches played over three days.
"The international game needs to have a close look at itself. Is the marketplace saturated?" Robertson explained. "What any sport needs is atmosphere and, in most countries, you're playing to quarter- or half-full stadiums. Less is more in many cases."