Here’s what’s wrong with T20 cricket

I know what you’re expecting to read here: that T20 is bad because it’s not proper cricket, and how dare they change the game I love?

But that’s all BS. T20 is a fine product and I can watch it, just not the same way I’d watch a Test. It just focuses on the wrong part of the sport.

The best part of watching cricket is seeing a wicket tumble. Friends and I often have said that the true scoring in cricket is the wickets and not the runs. In other words, runs are the tie-breaker, but it’s the wickets I come to see.

The most exciting teams have fast bowlers who can rip stumps out of the ground at will and spinners who can flummox any batsman.

Ever since the introduction of T20 the focus has been on higher run totals and boundaries, in essence making cricket like baseball. I like baseball, but cricket is making the same mistake that baseball made in the ’90s, thinking that a home run, or in this case sixes, are the most exciting thing that people can see.

Hitting a ball over a fence is boring. There, I said it.

I watch this beautiful game to see people work hard for their runs and bowlers trying to stop them. Shortening the game is all well and good – it’s understandable, not everyone can take five days off to watch a game but we don’t watch cricket to watch a team bat.

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The perfect example of that was the last 12 overs of day 2 of the Boxing Day Test in 2021: the ‘G was jumping not because the batting was world-class but the bowlers looked as dangerous as you have ever seen. That’s what I go to see cricket for.

Why focus on the least interesting part of cricket to make it more marketable? Because high scoring makes money, supposedly.

I don’t want to see only 18 per cent of a team play the most exciting part. I want to see everyone involved and plenty of chess-like strategies in the field. The BBL is struggling because of poor bowling, not the long schedule. I like that I can see more cricket and watch players develop and grow across a season.

Trying to be baseball is what damages the BBL. We don’t need a game every night – cricket is about the breaks, the speculation and the tension structure. A season with 14 weeks, games played on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with a week for the media to digest the games and life will be sweeter for Cricket Australia.

I want to watch the Renegades play and then spend a week hoping they’ll do better, not have to worry about the games being played every night that week.

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In short, stop trying to be baseball and make every effort to focus on wicket-taking and focus games around the weekends. And that will make T20 the true national focus it should be in summer… assuming the nation isn’t wholly on fire again.

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