I was listening to the B.B.C's coverage of New Zealand vs England on Test Match Special this morning. I must admit, I like so many others, was sceptical about the shortest format of the game. I am very much a traditionalist when it comes to cricket and I felt 20/20 would detract from some of the finer points of cricket which make it so compelling to both play and watch.
However, the more I see of it, the more I am warming to it. I played my first 20/20 match last year and it was really good fun. It was a beautiful late summer's evening. There was a big crowd and there was a party atmosphere about the ground. Music playing, hot food for sale, as well as a fantastic run chase. It all made for a great time.
It was mentioned on the radio that the first ever ICC 20/20 World Cup will take place in England; using Lords, The Oval and another southern ground to stage the matches. It would have been nice to see a northern ground involved but I feel it is only right that the English get the chance to host the competition. After all, they gave 20/20 to the world. Organisers say that there will be cheap tickets and a distinctively English feel to the tournament.
England have had a patchy 20/20 record of late but managed to convincingly thump New Zealand by 32 runs. The hero for England was Mascarenhas. He hit a mighty 4 sixes in a row; this ultimately was the deciding factor in the match. These runs came with England losing wickets and when the run-rate falling. It was a case of someone grabbing the bull by the horns and he did so admirably.
After recent performances, people were wondering whether or not Cook would get a game in the limited overs series. Today, the selectors went for Wright and Mustard. One would assume that this is probably the best way forward in T20 but as for ODI things are still very much undecided. If Wright gets a good score on Thursday, it will be a very tricky decision indeed as to who will open in the first ODI on Saturday.
Whether or not England builds on this most recent 20/20 victory or not is irrelevant. The shortest format of the game is for a long time to come and it is spreading fast. Most amateur leagues are carrying out some kind of 20/20 tournament these days and it has brought a lot more money into grass roots. People love to go out and slog and have fun. Provided it is played sparingly, it will always be able to draw the crowds and draw in the money. It must be carefully balanced with List A and first-class matches to provide a recipe for success. It truly is a great idea and here's to Twenty 20 cricket.