So much for promoting the T20 format then? The International Cricket Council have taken the game’s most fun format, given it a world cup and turned it into the most laborious affair imaginable.
It’s as if they’ve deliberately made the same errors which occurred at the 50-over World Cup in the West Indies in 2007, and applied them five years later to the T20 format. Instead of a short and compact competition, which grabs the attention of followers and acts as a marketing mechanism for the format, we have had a week of one-sided games, which saw Zimbabwe knocked out after two matches before five other teams had even played their first match.
Then there’s the fact that they scheduled the tournament during the monsoon season in Sri Lanka, which has led to half the matches being interrupted by rain. If the tournament is supposed to find the best national T20 side, having matches decided in seven overs, 11 overs and via Duckworth Lewis is hardly the way to go.
The scheduling has been awful – South Africa were able to take a two-day holiday because they had six days off between matches – and with all the early matches featuring a big nation against a ‘minnow’ there was little chance of capturing the public’s imagination.
The ICC must hope that the rain stays away and that there are some closer matches as we go into the ‘Super Eights’ which started on Thursday, but even so the whole event just seems a bit lame, and if the major aim is to promote the sport, then this year’s ICC World T20 (to give it it’ s poorly titled official name) has been a failure.
I would have expanded the competition (although apparently this will happen next time around). Still, why not now? Have 20 teams, divide them into four groups of five, with the top two teams from each group going into quarter-finals – straight knockout, none of this ‘Super Eights’ rubbish. Then the teams finishing third in each group, can go into a semi-final and a plate final – which would maintain some sort of interest for the ‘minnows’.
In such a scenario at least each team is guaranteed four matches, unlike poor old Zim who were eliminated after playing just twice and there’ll be something more tangible for them to achieve, while getting exposure to playing against the bigger nations will hopefully aid their development.
As it is this year’s event has done little to promote the T20 ‘brand’ and critics of the format who believe it shouldn’t be played at international level will be further emboldened.
With the Champions League following immediately afterwards, the ICC will be praying their event at least has an exciting conclusion.