History of Twenty20

Overview

Twenty20 cricket, often referred to as the “short game” involves each team only playing a single innings, batting each for a maximum of 20 overs. The timespan of a typical Twenty20 game is just under 3 hours, each innings therefore lasting 75 mins, and this brings the game more in line with other popular sports such as football or rugby.

The game was conceived by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) with the aim of creating a faster and more exciting version of cricket. The board stressed, however, that Twenty20 was not created to replace the traditional “long game”, but rather to complement it, with a view to attracting more interest in the game as a whole.

Since its humble beginnings in 2003, Twenty20 has spread around the world, all major cricketing nations now also fielding a short game team. Now most test playing teams also have a domestic competition of Twenty20. In the UK all the county teams now play Twenty20, sporting colourful team kits, similar to those of football.

The inaugural World Twenty20 Cup was held in 2007 in South Africa, in which India defeated Pakistan. The competition is organised by the sport’s governing body the ICC (International Cricket Council), and is to take place every two years. In 2009 the competition will be hosted by England, owing to the fact that it was one of the first two teams (alongside South Africa) to adopt the new style of the sport.

Brief History

As previously mentioned, Twenty20 cricket began in 2003 in the English domestic game, the idea being conceived by the England and Wales Cricket Board. When the Benson and Hedges Cup finished in 2002, the board needed to replace it with a new competition.

It was also hoped that it would attract more youngsters to the game, and after 4 years, it appears to have been successful in this respect. Soon after, South Africa also incorporated Twenty20 cricket into their domestic game.

On the domestic scene, the first Twenty20 game to be held at Lords was between Middlesex and Surrey on July 15th 2004. The game attracted a staggering 26,500 spectators, the largest crowd for any one-day county cricket game, since 1953.

The first men’s full international Twenty20 game played was between Australia and New Zealand in February 2005. The game was, however, taken in an extremely light-hearted manner, with both teams sporting 80s retro-style wear, including fake moustaches and beards.

Australia won the game resoundingly, though it was noted that not even the umpires really took the game too seriously during the last few overs. At one point Glenn McGrath jokingly restaged the infamous Trevor Chappell underarm bowling incident from a 1981 One Day International between the two sides, and umpire Billy Bowden produced a mock red card (red cards are not normally used in cricket) in response. The carnival atmosphere of this game provided a truly bizarre start for Twenty20 cricket on the international scene.

Rules

To contextualise the account of the modern game of Twenty20 cricket, it would be useful to outline briefly the new laws that apply to the game, in comparison with traditional cricket. In Twenty20 cricket the same laws apply as in the traditional game apart from a few exceptions:

  • Bowlers may only bowl a maximum of 4 overs per innings.
  • Umpires can award 5-run penalty runs at their discretion if they believe either team is wasting time.
  • The fielding team must start to bowl their 20th over within 75 minutes. If not, the batting side is credited an extra 6 runs for every whole over bowled after the 75 minute mark; the umpire may add more time to this, if he considers the batting team is wasting time.

Also, several fielding restrictions apply:

  • No more than five fielders can be on the leg side at any time.
  • During the first 6 overs, a maximum of two fielders only can be outside the 30-yard circle.
  • After the first 6 overs, a maximum of five fielders can be outside the fielding circle.

If at the end of the match the scores are tied, the game is resolved with a bowl-out (similar idea to the penalty shoot-out in football), with five bowlers from each side delivering one ball each at an unprotected wicket. If the number of wickets is equal after the first five balls per side, like in football, the bowling continues into a sudden death situation.

With the addition of a few radical new rules and restrictions, Twenty20 makes for an extremely exciting (and for the players, nerve-racking) addition to the modern cricket game.

Great Matches

In England, the first Twenty20 match was played between England and Australia at the Hampshire Rose Bowl on the 13th June 2005. In this momentous match England broke the record for winning by the largest margin in a game of Twenty20, claiming a victory by 100 runs.

Another hugely memorable match was between Australia and South Africa in January 2006, with the match pulling a crowd of 38,894 people at the The Gabba stadium in Australia. The Ozzies resoundingly won the match with ‘Man of the Match’ winner Damien Martyn scoring 96 runs.

One of the most exciting Twenty20 international games of all time was New Zealand vs. West Indies in February 2006, a game in which the teams tied on runs, 126 a piece, the New Zealanders stealing the game 3-0 in the tie-break bowl out.

In recent years it certainly appears that Twenty20 cricket is gaining in popularity and growing a considerable fan base, and consequently, excitement surrounding the game is growing. First, in 2004, there was the famous game between Middlesex and Surrey, in which 26,500 cricket fans turned up.

Then, in Jan 2005, the first domestic Twenty20 game in Australia attracted a sellout crowd of 20,700. In Jan 2007, in staggering circumstances, a crowd of 11,000 was expected for the game between the Queensland Bulls and New South Wales Blues. On the day, however, an additional 16,000 turned up to the gate, and overwhelmed, the ground authorities let in thousands free of charge to the game, leaving the final attendance at 27,653.

Records were broken in 2007 in Twenty20 International cricket when Sri Lanka trounced Kenya on the 14th September. They gained the highest team score in the 20 overs, racking up 260/6, and also the highest win by margin of runs (172 runs).

In bowling terms, one of the greatest, most recent games in Twenty20 cricket was the tie between Australia and Sri Lanka in September 2007, in which Australia won by 10 wickets.

Twenty20 Legends

In its short history, Twenty20 has noted the emergence of some real talent: players who thrive on the short game. A player who has really flourished and shown his worth in Twenty20 cricket has been Chris Gayle of the West Indies.

Gayle has broken various records over his few years playing Twenty20 cricket; Highest Individual Score in an innings (117) and Highest Scoring Partnership (146 with Devon Smith), both recorded in the West Indies and South Africa match in September 2007.

In this same century score, he also managed to gain the record for the Fastest Century Scored in Twenty20 cricket and the Highest number of sixes recorded in an individual innings (14).

For India, Yuvraj Singh has also emerged as a top Twenty20 player, scoring the fastest half century by any player, in 12 balls, and also, the highest number of runs scored off one over, 36 (6 sixes)!