Twenty20 cricket is here to stay. Whatever the purists may think, it has revolutionized the cricket world the way Packer’s World Series did with one day cricket back in the 70s. In addition to coloured clothing, white balls, day-night matches and the use of modern technology, T20 has brought with it the zing of fast-paced entertainment and a dash of glamour, elements which had become sadly passé in the one day format of the game.
With the latest adaptation of the game, the richest cricket board in the world had the confidence and clout to go against the political establishment and stage the tournament in South Africa. There couldn’t have been a bigger irony for those who cried foul against Packer’s circus: an Indian Premier League being played in South Africa, and that too in front of packed crowds! Of course one can argue that it is only the ex-pat population, but the indirect benefits are many: bonhomie between two countries, promotion of tourism, increased television coverage resulting in ad revenue, greater communications revenue by means of pre match competitions on mobiles, etc. Leading stars, budding actresses, Miss Bollywood competitions, cheerleaders, live interviews from the ‘dugouts’ and a host of other innovative strategies by the organizers have made the tournament a complete ‘tamasha’, which is what people want today.
They say the winds of change blow slowly but surely. Whether it’s the lure of lucre or lack of opportunities elsewhere, cricketers today are gradually learning to adapt themselves to the new form of the game. In some cases, it may even have brought forward a player’s retirement. All said and done, T20 provides wholesome entertainment in less than half a day, which is what the busy common man of today needs. Yes indeed, T20 cricket is here to stay.