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K.R. NAYAR COLUMN: Will a new cricket format blossom through T10 league?

Gulf News 2017-11-12 19:03:00

UAE is getting ready to host a new cricket format in the form of the T10 cricket league. This could well be the start of a new format making cricket shorter and more exciting than T20. However, concerns have also been raised on whether this will help the game or would it spoil a cricketer’s skill. Some believe the 90-minute duration, which is equal to a football match, may lure new fans into the game.

Any experiment will have supporters as well as critics. A format becomes popular when those who criticised turn into lovers of that format. When limited-over cricket was introduced, purists of the game felt it should not happen. When Australian television tycoon Kerry Packers introduced coloured clothing into cricket through his World Cricket Series in 1977, it was ridiculed as pyjama cricket. Today even Test cricket is played with a coloured ball during the day-night matches.

The great playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote that ‘progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their mind cannot change anything.’ For those who got used to enjoying a particular type of cricket, especially Test cricket that tests the skills and durability of every player for five days, it was hard to accept the 50-over one-day cricket. It was harder to accept 20-over cricket. The same could happen initially when T10 will be played.

When T20 was introduced, many said it would never be serious cricket and remain as just fun and entertainment. Today so much research goes into understanding how to win a T20 match that teams have discovered innovative strategies and strokes. If in a T20 match captains are supposed to think on their toes, in T10 they may have to think on their toe nail! In T10 we could have last pair batsmen open the batting, like it surprised many when spinners opened the bowling in T20.

It is a fact that football is popular because of its 90-minute non-stop action from start. If cricket can provide the same excitement, it can attract people. Despite rain curtailing the number of overs to eight in the third match of the T20 series between India and New Zealand in Thiruvanathapuram last week, close to 55,000 people thoroughly enjoyed the action.

The T10 Players’s Draft held last week saw the world’s best limited over players being picked by different teams. The success of this format will depend on the players and how professionally the organisers stage it. If the players produce breathtaking cricket, creating heart-stopping and nail-biting finishes, it could blossom into the most popular among all formats. Today’s cricket fans want action that thrills, and in T10 hearts can pulsate with every over for an exciting finish.