Cricket snobs will tell you that Twenty20, with its dancing girls, booming pop music and illuminated bails, is nothing but a glorified piss up for people with short attention spans. The accepted wisdom goes that a Test match is the ultimate form of the game, and it’s a view I’ve readily subscribed to throughout my cricket-loving life.
Since the first T20 ball was bowled back in 2003, I’ve avoided watching much of what I thought to be the bastard son of ‘proper cricket’, yet to my great surprise, the current World Cup has won me over. I will never be reconciled to the idea that the best way of celebrating a six is by dancing to the Black Eyed Peas, but I’ve discovered I can cope with the crap if it’s in exchange for the kind of captivating cricket that has been on display throughout the tournament.
More often than not the matches have reached thrilling conclusions and to see the likes of AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga executing their skills in situations where every single ball is of vital importance has been a joy to watch. It has also been nice to see minor cricketing nations such as England being given a chance to test themselves on the world stage against established sides like South Africa and Holland.
The snobs will continue to argue that young players are having their development damaged by playing too much ‘big shot’ cricket and that established stars are being distracted by the riches on offer in the IPL and other tournaments. The truth is that without the finances generated by T20, Test cricket will die quicker than a team spirit that’s exposed to Kevin Pietersen. And with the need to score quickly in the longer format now paramount, if T20 can help England find their own version of David Warner, minus the moustache and predilection for punching people, then no one will be complaining.
Speaking of the England team, I should probably take this opportunity to thank that sorry bunch of losers for it was them that turned me on to the joys of 20-over cricket. After the hell of watching Australia smash us to pieces during the recent Ashes series, I thought the fact I was tuning into the T20 World Cup was a sign I was hitting a cricketing equivalent of rock bottom. Instead, I discovered a wonderful antidote to the stifled, stupefying cricket I, and many others, have been forced to put up with recently.
Perhaps my passion for T20 will prove a passing fad. I suspect the familiar, quiet charms of Test cricket will lure me back eventually. If they do, one thing is certain, I’ll never look down my Wisden at T20 again.