T20 hype will not transfer into Test arena

biltongbek Roar Guru

By biltongbek, biltongbek is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    It was back in the day when we all had Motorola mobiles, when IBM just launched the IBM 5155 portable personal computer, when most cars were square and Toyota invested in twincam powerplants.

    You can see where I am going with this, it was a long time ago. There were no cheerleaders or Twenty20 matches, Test venues still had little white picket fences on the boundaries and the stiff upper lip crowds at Lord’s were still in fashion.

    A mate of mine invited me to join his company’s social cricket league, and me being game for anything I accepted the invitation with glee.

    I was going to play a game I knew little to nothing of. Jan Spies, an iconic Afrikaner storyteller since the 60s, had a very funny story about a farm boy who went to his first cricket game and didn’t understand why the gentlemen with their ‘Doctor-type coats’ went onto the field if there were no injuries.

    To him it was sacrilege to plant three thin little poles on opposite ends of the most beautiful piece of lawn he has ever seen.

    What troubled this boy even more was the fact that a gentleman (described very loosely as a gentleman) would be throwing red round rocks at a guy on the opposite side armed with only a piece of willow.

    I digress, upon arriving at my first cricket match in a borrowed pair of whites, the only white pair of sneakers I owned (they were the same ones I played squash with) the captain approached me to ask what type of delivery I bowled.

    Really not to sure what to say, I blurted out something along the lines of “slow left arm.”

    Not long into the innings (we bowled first) he chucks me the ball and tells me to do my thing, fortunately he left the field placing to himself as that would surely have given away the fact that I have never played a game of cricket in my life.

    My first delivery was a no ball. “What?” I asked ignorantly as I had no idea what it meant.

    “You are not supposed to step over the line,” was the response.

    As I made the next few deliveries I realised that I did indeed get the tiniest bit of spin (the ball spun to the offside, but didn’t know what that was called in cricketing terms) and finished my five overs with figures of 2 for 14.

    I became a regular in the team, whether it was because they were always short of players, or whether my bowling was good enough to stake my claim was never ascertained (I choose to believe it was my natural talent).

    I went on to play social cricket for quite a number of years and really enjoyed my time in the field.

    That is how I came to love the game of cricket.

    You may be wondering why I am telling you this story, but there really is a lesson in it.

    There have been a good number of articles debating the merits of these over-the-top Twenty20 competitions and their superficial marketing ploys.

    I question the use of “Sponsor name moment” or “Sponsor name wicket” by commentators and all the other superficial additives cricket associations use to make Twenty20 cricket the instant gratification tablet so sorely needed in this superficial day and age.

    I question whether anyone that watches Twenty20 and then five-day Test cricket would find much relation, apart from the bat, ball and wickets used in the two formats.

    I question whether there is any benefit in making people believe the ‘ride your luck’ innings that often win these games provide the casual observer with a realistic impression of what it takes to face the best bowlers on a bowling friendly wicket and eking out a century in a day?

    If you want people to love cricket, in fact if you want people to love Test cricket, then let them play the game. Get communities involved in social leagues, get young kids to play cricket.

    Most people I know watch sport they understand. The only way they get to understand a game where you can play for five days and still not have a result is by having them exposed to the sport in their communities.

    Forget about the flash and bang of Twenty20. Sure it makes for a great night out and provides excitement and a result for those requiring a result rather than a process, but it isn’t going to bring millions of new fans to Test cricket.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • December 11th 2012 @ 4:16am
      Johnno said | December 11th 2012 @ 4:16am | ! Report

      Biltongbek a good article. Saving test cricket is a tough one, a highly complex issue where no one yet, from cricket exports to us fans have yet to find all the answer and solutions.
      But this is the problem. Like rugby with 7evens rugby. T20 cricket, is such an alarmingly easy way to get kids playing cricket, and spreading the sport to new countries.
      And like 15’s rugby takes a lot more technical time , and input and money than seven’s, Test cricket is much more expensive for new countries for the sport to get good at.
      So the money has to found to develop the kids, and the the problem test cricket faces is, it’s 1st class cricket scene doesn’t make any money. At least with super rugby, it kinda breaks even a lot or can bring in some crowds, and same with even Vodacom cup.
      But 1st class cricket in OZ and county cricket 3 day games, it doesn’t make much money and is expensive to put on.
      Where as T20 can be milked at all levels and money can be made out of it.
      Also the ICC and wy they don’t i think it’s ridiculous, . Ireland,and is showing real potential in the monger format of the game they just need more opportunities. The ICC are quite a closed bunch to expansion of the longer form of the game it seems, and don’t seem to encourage other countries to get good at the longer format of the game, which is a shame, coz Ireland have just as much ope as say NZ, in getting or staying decent at 1st class cricket longer form of the game. Right on England’s doorstep, they cut put a county side from Dublin into county cricket,. Wales have a county side Glamorgan in county cricket, Dublin would be perfect to get into the county scene.
      And that’s the problem at the junior level , T20 is such an easy way to get kids paying the game and being an inclusive sport.
      Problem with junior cricket in the longer forms, is you spend more time waiting to bat, or if you get out early, just waiting to field, and then the actual fielding itself , is very boring and long for kids.
      Where as in T20 like Indoor cricket you get to be involved more and comparatively quicker.
      And T20 like with 7evens rugby rugby Biltongbek is so much cheaper for countries to get good at.
      One of the reasons why I think it will take time in rugby for teams in 15 a side to get good at new teams, is it gets very technical and expensive, and things like the need to find tall players for lineouts, and people who cans crumb properly etc, and the technical costs to teach these things.
      7evens like T20 is easy and fast, and a lot cheaper to get good at for new countries.
      I think the best way perhaps is to set up windows. A T20 window, and then a test window, and an ODI window, so all the best players are on deck, and better prepared.
      Coz we have a test match this week vs Sri Lanka and the last week the player shave been fine tuning there skills playing T20 not test cricket. That must be the team’s strength and conditioning and team physio’s nightmare. No wonder all the bowlers are breaking down. And batsmen rusty. You need at the elite level to have your body prepared for the specific sport , especially bowling . So some better scheduling is needed by cricket administrator’s, to help test cricket too.

    • Roar Guru

      December 11th 2012 @ 6:35am
      Andy_Roo said | December 11th 2012 @ 6:35am | ! Report


      T20 cricket will expose a new generation of fans to the game of cricket. Yes they are young and want instant gratification but as i have said on a couple of other threads:
      As we get older our tastes mature, we become more patient, we take more interest in history, we look more deeply into things. I think as this new generation gets older they will come to appreciate longer forms of cricket. It may not generate millions of new test cricket fans in the short term but longer term it may well do.

      A few modifications to test cricket to make it appeal more to the younger generation might help too. A spash a coloured clothing and day/night test cricket might be a good start.

      • Roar Guru

        December 11th 2012 @ 6:03pm
        biltongbek said | December 11th 2012 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

        Andy, I think the title carries a bit more weight than I intended, my title was simply. “Just play the game”

        I guess the editors must have decided it needs a bit more spice. 🙂

        • Roar Guru

          December 11th 2012 @ 10:45pm
          Andy_Roo said | December 11th 2012 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

          Fair enough mate.

    • December 11th 2012 @ 8:04am
      Red Kev said | December 11th 2012 @ 8:04am | ! Report

      Great article biltongbek. I particularly liked this line:

      “Most people I know watch sport they understand.”

      Bang on the money. I watch and enjoy cricket and rugby because I played them. Of course I’ve played a few other sports as a kid but the ones I liked to play the most are the ones as an adult I enjoy watching the most. It is sad that some governing bodies don’t seem to comprehend the link between getting children playing the game and their crowd sizes – the AFL is a great example of a sport that gets this principle.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 11th 2012 @ 3:55pm
      ThomasHudson9 said | December 11th 2012 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

      Is the aim of T20 cricket to increase popularity in test cricket?

      • Roar Guru

        December 11th 2012 @ 6:08pm
        biltongbek said | December 11th 2012 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

        No Thomas, my thinking is the administrators of the game is intent on using T20 as the draw card for new crowds, where as I don’t think a shortened version of cricket will draw more crowds to test cricket than actually having people participate in the game.

        People that watch T20, gets hyped up in the result that T20 produces in 84 minutes of batting, where as test cricket is totally the opposite. For me test cricket is very much the nuances within a session, a day, an innings, whereby a 4 over spell of fast bowling will provide more intrigue than 4 overs of swatting he ball over the boundary, in other words, test cricket is very much about the process over 5 days, rather than only the result.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 11th 2012 @ 6:27pm
      Neuen said | December 11th 2012 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

      Saving test cricket? It doesn’t need to be saved. People are only saying that because India have become less of a force in it. They have the ICC by the marbles and squeeze it when they want to flex a bit of muscle.

      But one must not forget that Indian cricket was brought back from nowhere in the test arena thanks to the ICC putting a bouncer restriction in the laws. Without it Indian batsman found it hard to be top of the class.

      It is simple really. If your team plays well in the test arena then the fans will flock to see them. If they do not do well they are not going to bother apart from a couple of fans who love and respect the game no matter by who its played.

      • December 11th 2012 @ 9:51pm
        Ian Whitchurch said | December 11th 2012 @ 9:51pm | ! Report

        “But one must not forget that Indian cricket was brought back from nowhere in the test arena thanks to the ICC putting a bouncer restriction in the laws. Without it Indian batsman found it hard to be top of the class.”

        Crap on both counts. The Indian middle order of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxsman, and the emergence of Srinath as a genuine quick, was what did it. Yes, it hasnt been a particularly good decade for fast bowlers, but that middle order is something to drool over.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 13th 2012 @ 5:18pm
      ThomasHudson9 said | December 13th 2012 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

      Nothing is wrong with test cricket really. It’s still very popular and accepted by most players as the premier format of the game. True cricket fans will always love test cricket.

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