Why England Invented Twenty 20 Cricket

Twenty 20 cricket started for the same reason that One Day Cricket (or Limited Over Cricket) started. The English were really crap at the preceding versions of cricket, so they invented a new version.

Way back in 1877 the English finally deigned to play an Australian team on equal terms and to call it a Test. Prior to this the English had regularly played “colonial” teams that contained more than the regular 11 members. In 1877 however they struck a snag: Australia won, on equal terms, in Australia. Five years later in 1882, England was beaten by Australia in England. It was during that series that the “death” of English cricket was mockingly announced in a newspaper, some bails were burnt and the history of the Ashes began.

Not long after this South Africa joined the test cricket scene. This was not good for England as they now had TWO colonial rivals to their cricket crown. With the arrival of other Test playing nations during the 20th century, England definitely had to share the glory of Test cricket superiority!

One Day (or Limited Over) cricket began in England in 1962 as a contest between the counties. The Poms had limited over cricket fairly much to themselves until 1971 when due to copious amounts of rain in Melbourne washing out almost all of the intended 3rd test of the series, the first international one day match was played. You guessed it, that first international limited overs match, 40 overs per side, was won by Australia by 5 wickets.

It was all down hill for England in Limited Over cricket after that. By 1975 there was the first World Cup of Cricket, a limited overs tournament involving all of the test playing nations plus a few minor nations besides. Although the inaugural cricket world cup was held in England, the tournament was dominated by the finalists, Australia and eventual winners the West Indies. Of the nine cricket world cups, Australia has won four, West Indies two and India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have won one each. And England, the inventors of Limited Over Cricket? They’ve been hosts four times and runners-up three times. Foiled by the Colonies again!

The ’70’s was a rather good decade for the Windies, as Mr Kerry Packer was quick to notice when he created World Series Cricket for two years in the late 1970’s. By the 1980’s it was all over for England in Limited Overs Cricket – whether Australia, West Indies or the rising Asian tigers of India and Sri Lanka. A South Africa readmitted to world cricket in the 1990’s and Pakistan taking the 1992 World Cup of Cricket only added to their woes!

For a game that England started, every time they shared it with the world, the world took it over and made it their own.

Back to the drawing board. In 2003 England invented Twenty20 cricket, once more as an inter county competition. It suited their climate. Three and a half hours in summer twilight was not only achievable but could attract spectators who could watch an entire game in one evening.

This time, the world caught on a lot faster. By 2005, Australia had domestic T20 games. In 2006, the West Indies had their own competition with USD$28 million in prize money.

Where money goes interest can only follow. India, the 21st century centre of power in world cricket, began the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008. Apart from copious amounts of money and private ownership of franchises, the IPL attracted cricketers from throughout the world. Young up and comers who had never played state or national cricket had an opportunity to make a name for themselves. Older players who were at the end of their international careers had the opportunity to top up their superannuation. In 2010 IPL games became the first ever sporting event to be broadcast live on YouTube!

Not only are there international T20 matches but there have been three T20 World competitions in 2007, 2009 and 2010 won by India, Pakistan and finally…England.

So the history of cricket: invented by England, perfected by everyone else. England just keeps inventing different versions, so for a short time at least, they are the world champions ….. until the current version escapes!


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