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Twenty20 is cricket’s future

FORMER England captain Mike Atherton has made the shock claim an insatiable appetite for Twenty20 could make Test and 50-over cricket redundant.

As the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa gets a tick of approval from the world’s top players and harsh judges such as Ian Chappell, Atherton has predicted this may mean the game’s two main formats could soon be out the door.

He said the launch of a domestic Twenty20 Champions series between teams from Australia, South Africa, England and India last week, along with India’s own new domestic tournament, showed cricket officials felt the new bite-sized formula had a big future.

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“While all eyes have focused on South Africa, there were two developments elsewhere which suggest that eventually Twenty20 cricket could well become the dominant form of the game,” Atherton said.

“I’d certainly lay a large wager that eventually 50-over cricket will be rendered extinct.

“So far, the first Twenty20 global competition has been everything that the World Cup in the Caribbean was not. With spectators seemingly having riotous fun and the winners to be revealed in just over a week’s time, it has looked like an event to be enjoyed, rather than a marathon to be endured.”

While officials are keen to push Twenty20 as a way of attracting greater interest in the game, it’s clear the money on offer from television is also a huge incentive.

The Champions series, featuring the best two teams from each of the four nations, will compete for about $7 million in Abu Dhabi or Dubai next October.

The tournament was hastily arranged to counter the rebel Indian Cricket League, which tried to lure stars such as Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Stephen Fleming.

The trio have now signed with the official Indian Premier League.

Atherton, writing in London’s Sunday Telegraph, said Twenty20 should have only been played at domestic level.

“Now that Twenty20 has spread to the international arena, its effects could be more wide-ranging than either I, or, I suspect, its creators would wish,” he said.

“It is hard to see a future for 50-over cricket and if, like me, you still love the slower rhythm and twists of Test cricket, you might fear for that as well.

“The very essence of the game is a contest between batsmen and bowlers, bat and ball. Twenty20 is the equivalent of the gas chamber for a bowler. If the game’s future evolves entirely around Twenty20, why would any young, talented cricketer want to become one?”

Chappell, also in South Africa as a TV commentator, said the Twenty20 World Championship had even “captured the imagination” of fans with a traditional cricket background.

“How the future of the format (Twenty20) is planned could decide whether cricket really does become a global game or just a relic of the past,” he said.

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Categories: Cricket Article, twenty20
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