And so the glorious T20 World Cup 2009 has come to an end, with Pakistan emerging victorious over the resilient Lankans. It was a fitting end to a spectacular tournament, with both teams playing a high level of cricket and providing the fans with some fantastic play. As the final spectators leave Lord's, I am sure they take many special memories from this World Cup that will no doubt echo through the annals of time.
Wait. I think I just threw up a little.
Let me rephrase: and so this rubbish excuse of a world cup has finally come to an end, with Pakistan leaving the field holding a massive trophy that they will no doubt cherish, seeing as they don't have any other silverware to be proud of anyway.
In case you're having trouble understanding the tone of this post, let me make this clearer: I hate T20!
When T20 first entered the international arena, I looked at it as the ICC's last ditch effort at creating the kind of revenue that other major sports worldwide were generating. It was like the all-star break in the NBA, just a show for the fans. Then some brilliant mind decided that since normal 50-over cricket was the stuff that most European and western nations were either completely ignorant about or made fun of, why not revamp the sport and throw in flashing lights, cheerleaders and explosions? After all, isn't that what makes baseball, basketball and football so popular?
And so we have T20 friendlies, and then we had T20 tournaments, and before you know it we had the inaugural T2o WORLD CUP! A few firecrackers, sixes and hours of over-enthusiastic commentary later, India (or 'Team India' as they like to be called, so as not to be confused with the country of the same name) emerge as so-called "world champions" of the super short format.
T20 has taken cricket to dizzying heights in the last year, with insane amounts of money being paid to cricketers in the Indian Premier League as well as heavy sponsorship for the upcoming Champions League T20 tournament in India this October. But as much as I love cricket, I cannot stomach this new brand that the international cricket bodies seem so desperate to shove down my throat. Sure, this may sound like the arguments put forward by many older cricket pundits, but I am not so much concerned about the 'beauty of the sport' as I am about the actual 'value' of T20.
I tried watching this years world cup, but honestly any match that didn't involve Sri Lanka was just not appealing to me. Some may say that it's more than just slogging but honestly, it isn't! Make the runs quickly or get out. And if you get out, the next person steps in and starts from there. There is no strategy, no technique, and certainly no brains! I mean, the Netherlands beat England in the opening round. The NETHERLANDS! Are you kidding me?! And then this same England squad went on to maul Pakistan (the eventual champions) by 48 runs in the very next game!
Am I just too smart for this game then? Why have we reduced what used to be a game of strategy and endurance into this one-off blink-and-you-miss-it Hollywood-ish TV spectacle? Surely we the spectators have not become so mind-numbingly stupid that we needed a shorter no-holds-barred version of the game to actually enjoy it! Can you imagine if they tried this with other sports? Surely football needs a revamp of sorts - it's been the same for decades! Why not introduce T20 Football? Make the teams line up for 20 penalties instead, seeing as the crowd only want to see goals scored anyway! Or what about T20 Tennis? Instead of weeks of competitions for Wimbeldon, why not just have a single set tie-break to decide the winner of a match? Too short? Fine, make it the first to reach 20 points with a break of two, it IS T20 Tennis after all!
It seems that in an age of microwave cooking and instant coffee, T20 cricket should fit in just fine. But honestly, once all the shine, glamour and gold have faded away from T20, perhaps you too will see it as just another gimmick that the sport really didn't need.