Cricket is a changing game. To ensure that it remains popular the ICC have made several changes to the way in which the game is played, which have been on the whole successful. What cricket does not need at the moment are formats shorter than T20 cricket. It makes very little sense as there is nothing wrong with the way in which T20 cricket is currently played. Attendances are extremely high in such matches, with the majority of IPL and Big Bash League matches being sold out. Moreover, this format is very popular with the younger generation and has inspired a whole new wave of followers of the game. It is hard to understand the reasoning for a format even shorter than T20, which itself is extremely brief. However, the creation of the T10 league by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) can be seen as a way of generating revenue and not a genuine improvement to the game of cricket.
There is a video posted on the league’s website which states the need to move cricket to a 90 minute format, joining football, volleyball and basketball. Any cricket fan knows that the true merit of cricket, especially in Tests, is the concentration and skills required to play over an extended period of time. T10 cricket opposes all of this. Here are the main reasons why T10 cricket is harmful to cricket.
Eleven Players for Ten Overs
One major flaw in the structure of the T10 league was having matches played eleven-aside. This made very little sense and it became the first proper tournament to have more players than overs. As a result, many players were seemingly redundant. A prime example can be found in the opening match of the tournament. The Bengal Tigers batted first and posted a small total of 86/1, which the Kerala Kings chased down in eight overs. Three players did not contribute at all for the Bengal Tigers. Darren Sammy, Cameron Delport and Sarfraz Ahmed all did not bat and did not bowl either. It is simply absurd to have over a quarter of the team not contributing. Perhaps they could learn something by taking a look at the Hong Kong six-aside tournament. If this tournament is going to be a regular event, then it should definitely not be played with eleven players on each team.
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A Slippery Slope
At first there was Test cricket, a glorious game founded on skill and concentration. The introduction of ODI cricket was revolutionary, finding the perfect balance between aggressive batting and tactics. T20 matches were a way to bring cricket firmly into the 21st century and to increase popularity of the sport among a generation focused around big hits and fast-paced action. It is hard to see what the introduction of T10 cricket brings. However, if it becomes a regular event, it could lead to the introduction of other formats such as Five 5 cricket. At what point does it become absurd? I think it is fair to say that T10 cricket is over the line. There is a distinct lack of skill involved in the format and it could be a stepping stone for even shorter formats to become common place. We have to ensure that this is not the case as it is a symptom of the dumbing down of cricket.
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As briefly mentioned earlier, the T10 league is not designed to further the game of cricket but to merely generate profit. A perfect example of this can be seen in the fundamental structure of the league. The president of the T10 league is a Pakistani businessman called Salman Iqbal. As well as being a cricket fan, Iqbal is the owner of the ARY Group, which is famed for its media services. Indeed, in the United Kingdom and the United States the only place the league’s matches were shown were on the ARY Digital Network. Clearly a lot of profit was made from the tournament. Moreover, the break after five overs provided a great chance for in-match advertising on television as well as at the grounds. While this is similar to the IPL, at least the Indian Premier League did not have to make up a format to draw viewers in.
A Test for the Olympics?
Prior to the tournament England star Eoin Morgan described T10 cricket as the “ideal” format for the Olympics. Yet, there are several issues with this. Firstly, it is hard to see cricket ever returning to the Olympics. It was played in the 1900 Olympics in Paris, but only France and England competed. Similar issues would arise if the competition were to be reinstated. There is a severe lack of cricket infrastructure outside of the teams that compete internationally, meaning that it could not feasibly be a regular event. For example, Tokyo would struggle to host such an event. Furthermore, the Olympics would give cricket huge exposure on a scale never seen before. Therefore, why should a format not representative of the sport be played? Since no international T10 matches have happened, and it is likely that none ever will, it would be absurd to play it in the Olympics as a symbol of cricket. T20 cricket or even ODIs would make the most sense. If it is the case that cricket does get reinstated in the Olympics, and T10 cricket is used, it would be a disgrace to the name of cricket.
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