T20 matches are back on after a very exciting Test series between India and Srilanka. The T20 match in Nagpur was sold out long before the match day.
This points to the phenomenal interest in T20 cricket. Make not mistake about this, I might find Test cricket as the ultimate in Cricket but I am a huge fan of the T20 format.
Why T20 is easier to sell?
The obvious answer to this is T20 is played in 3 hours compared to 7 hours it takes to play a ODI match. Test matches last for 5 days so the advantage of playing a 3 -hour match is quite apparent.
Also most sports marketing experts believe that T20 is an ideal vehicle for getting the sport accepted in US and European markets. The unavoidable 20 second break between every over is a dream come true for most advertisers.
T20 also have got people involved in Cricket who previously did not watch or follow the game much. A huge section of viewers (mainly women) who were not following Cricket previously were addicted to the game during IPL.
The pitfalls of T20…
I don’t want to talk about the pitfalls of T20 cricket from a cricketing point of view but more or less from a administrative point of view.
For instance the theory that T20 is ideal to spread the game in US and Europe sounds a little incredible to me. The game has lost popularity in South Africa, England and the West Indies. Instead of improving the numbers there, would it be sensible to build newer markets?
The United States has never really accepted a game other than soccer to some extent. Baseball, Basketball, American Football are essentially American sports with very little following outside America.
Finally there are many who followed the IPL but were not traditionally cricket fans. The question here is will they return in the next few years. IPL has also had tremendous coverage to their owners who either are movie stars themselves or hire movie stars as brand ambassadors. This works great for a while but is that going to be a model for long term success.
A good case of point is England where T20 cricket started. It brought in huge crowds initially and the interest in Cricket went up. 5 years down the line, England is still struggling to get crowds into stadiums. This points to the fact the T20 might provide entertainment but can it sustain an audience’s interest beyond a few years? Only time will tell.