Twenty20 cricket in general has changed the way that many people view the sport, in both a positive and negative light.
The Indian Premier League (otherwise known as the IPL) has turned cricket on its head in the past few years. Through the short-overs, powerful hitting, crowd entertainment and a chance to see the world's cricketing elite play head to head, it is no surprise that hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to grounds in the sub-continent.
Former England international cricketer, Paul Nixon explained how Twenty20 cricket is doing nothing but good for the game of cricket.
The 44-year-old told GiveMeSport: “I don't think it is killing cricket in the slightest, as it is making more people aware of the game.
"However from personal experience, I can say that all players want to play the longer form of the game as it is the truest battle.”
With that being said, it is certainly far from the full picture. On the other end of the spectrum, many cricket fans and professionals have challenged T20 and how it is affecting the way players approach Test and ODI cricket. Many players have adapted to a different, more aggressive style of play in all departments.
Furthermore, through this transition of style, it has been heavily argued by cricketing greats, such as West Indian legend Michael Holding, that the youth around the world that are growing up and learning about the game are being negatively impacted by what Twenty20 cricket is.
Holding said in an interview with The Times: “My view is that in 20 years time, Test
cricket will not exist and all we will be left with is 20 over cricket.
“Once there are Twenty20 leagues in South Africa, England and Australia like the one in India, then a player will spend his whole time flitting from one to the other, with no time for Tests.
“When players start making themselves unavailable for their country to play in these
leagues, you have to question it.
“Test cricket is real cricket, simple. Twenty20 is entertainment. Fine, we all need entertainment in our lives. But the problem is Twenty20 is taking over.”
Nixon, a former wicket-keeper batsman, challenged that opinion outlining how picking up new skills helps enhance batsmen.
“In terms of the argument against the players ‘picking up bad habits’, I think it enhances players skills if anything, as they have to deliver under pressure of larger crowds and there is often bigger prize money in a faster game, which again, just adds to the pressure.”
Money over country
The argument that players like Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga and India’s much coveted Virender
Sehwag are purposely making themselves unavailable for Test cricket to play in the IPL and gain a bigger wages packet was somewhat rubbished by Nixon, as claimed most youngsters around the world are taught to represent their nation.
The ex Leicestershire man said: “We are all drilled as youngsters to play for our country. Saying that, the IPL is only a few weeks long whereas playing for your country is over many months and years and you are getting to travel the world and see many different cities.”
Good for the game?
From Mumbai to Johannesburg, the IPL has proved to be a hit in many countries with millions tuning in to their television sets from around the world. It has been statistically been proven that crowd attendance and TV viewership peaked at an all time high during the second Indian Premier League tournament in 2011 and Twenty20 World Cup final in 2014.
Nixon added: “Twenty20 definitely attracts more people into the game as it is more accessible over a shorter time such as evenings just as people are finish their work to want to enjoy their night out, the spectators can have more of a song and dance at a T20 match.”
For India and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the IPL has been a massive revelation for them. Before the tournament, the stadia, coaching institutes were very poor, however, the huge money that is invested into the IPL helps the BCCI improve all of that, hence helping the youth of Indian cricket have a better development and hold a bright light for the future.
This is further backed up with India being a huge force within international cricket in the limited overs format, where they are second on both ODI and Twenty ICC rankings. It is with no doubt that the talent they have found from the IPL has contributed to their successes over the past few years as they were going through a transition phase.
“The game has to always develop and some things work well and others don't but it's important to keep improving rules to make the sport a greater spectacle," Nixon said.
“The players are playing the game more positive than ever and new talent is rising up from
There is no doubt that the rise of the IPL and Twenty20 cricket has provided both positives and negatives and, for the time being at least, the former still outweigh the latter.
Anything that helps attracts new fans and supporters to the game cannot be considered negative, also Test cricket still lives on and the county cricket in England is proving to be stronger than ever, with players like Kevin Pietersen coveting international recognition rather than IPL money.
But we'd be foolish not to think Pietersen will not be offering a slightly envious glance when the IPL gets underway once again this week.
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