x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Twenty20 not an ogre any longer

Fears that the shortest format would reduce cricket to a slugfest for batsmen and be an existential threat to Tests have been confounded so far.

Twenty20 cricket has not reduced the impact of spin bowlers such as Piyush Chawla, left.
Twenty20 cricket has not reduced the impact of spin bowlers such as Piyush Chawla, left.

Perceptions about Twenty20 are changing fast. When the newest form of cricket first made its appearance on the global stage, sceptics were worried about its impact.

The purist feared for the traditions of the game, others warned of the demise of the spinners and wrote obituaries about the classical batsmen. Twenty20 cricket was meant to be a slug fest, with no place for the intricacies of the game.

It was supposed to be pure entertainment, with four and sixes being the only statistics that matter.

Jacques Kallis, the stylish South Africa batsman, says he was a bit wary. "A lot of us perhaps didn't accept Twenty20 cricket at first," he said last week.

"I certainly didn't."

Kallis, however, was gradually attracted to the game and today he says Twenty20 is not the ogre it was first thought to be. "A long time ago, people were worried that one-day cricket was going to affect Test cricket negatively and I don't think it has," he said. "It has been really good for the game, as has T20 cricket."

Test cricket is healthy, the spinners are playing a big part in Twenty20 and developing their art. And as a poll on a leading cricket website indicates, fans prefer the close, low-scoring matches to the high-scoring games in Twenty20 cricket.

They enjoy those even encounters between bat and ball more than the deluge of boundaries. And that had to happen sooner than later. How many people would have packed the Roman Coliseum if one gladiator had his hands and legs tied, while the other was armed to the teeth? That would not have been very entertaining.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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