Twenty20 cricket (T20) is a short form of cricket where the two teams have one innings each and each team bats for a maximum of 20 overs. Twenty20 cricket is thus fairly similar to limited overs cricket (one day cricket), but for limited overs cricket the maximum number of overs can be set at a higher level, and allowing 40 overs or more per team is not unusual.
While a match of the more traditional Test cricket is scheduled for three days or more, with a normal day starting at 11 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m., a Twenty20 game will normally not carry on much longer than three hours in total. Each innings will normally go on for 75-90 minutes and there is a 10-20 minute long interval. This makes the time requirement for players and spectators more similar to that of other popular sports, e.g. baseball, basketball, American football and ice hockey.
Twenty20 cricket is a comparatively new addition to the world of cricket. It was formally introduced by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in 2003 for a professional inter-country competition in England and Wales.
Twenty20 is not only a shorter form of cricket that is easier to fit into the schedules of prospective audiences, it is also played at a faster pace since endurance becomes less important than in Test cricket. This increase of pace has been very well received by both spectators in the field and by those who enjoy watching televised cricket.
Rules for Twenty20 cricket
In general, Twenty20 cricket follows the Laws of Cricket. There are however some exceptions. Here are a few of the most important once:
- An individual bowler may not bowl more than one-fifth of the total overs per innings. (For a full Twenty20 match, this equals 4 overs.)
- If a bowler oversteps the popping crease, thus causing a no ball, it will cost 1 run and his next delivery is designated a “free-hit”. In this case, the batsman can only be dismissed through a run out, or by handling the ball, obstructing the field or hitting the ball twice.
- No more than five fielders are allowed to be on the leg side at any time during Twenty20 cricket.
- During the first six overs of a Twenty20 match, no more than two fielders are allowed to be outside the 30-yard circle.
- After the first six overs of a Twenty20 match, no more than five fielders are allowed to be outside the fielding circle.
- If the fielding team does not start to bowl their 20th over within 75 minutes, the batting side is credited an extra six runs for every whole over bowled after the 75-minute mark. However, if the batting team is wasting time, the umpire may add more time to prevent the batting team from benefiting from their bad behaviour. It is up to the umpire to decide if the batting team is wasting time or not.
Breaking a tie in Twenty20
Earlier, tied Twenty20 matches were decided by a bowl-out. This has now been changed. If a Twenty20 match ends in a tie, and the tie must be broken, it will be broken with a one over per side, a so called “Super Over”. Each team will pick three batsmen and one bowler. These selected players will play a one-over per side game (king of a mini-match within the match). This is sometimes referred to as a One1. The team that attains the higher score in the Super Over wins the whole Twenty20 match.
The commencement and rise of Twenty20 cricket
Twenty20 cricket rose in the wake of the last Benson & Hedges Cup. The Benson & Hedges Cup was a one-day cricket competition for first-class counties in England and Wales, sponsored by the owners of the English cigarette brand Benson & Hedges. A ban on tobacco advertising put a halt to the sponsorship, and the last ever Benson & Hedges Cup took place in 2002.
With the Benson & Hedges Cup discontinued, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) needed a new one day cricket competition to take its place. Dwindling crowds and reduced sponsorship income was of great concern to the board, and they wanted to find a way of providing fast paced short cricket that could appeal to an audience that wasn’t very interested in long cricket matches. ECB:s marketing manager Stuart Robertson suggested they try a new format; a 20 over per innings game that would only take a few hours to complete.
The first official Twenty20 matches took place between English counties on 13 June 2003. A little more than a year later, the illustrious Lord’s Cricket Ground arranged their very first Twenty20 match on July 15 2004. That match attracted over 27,500 spectators. The year 2004 was also when the first international Twenty20 match took place, between England’s and New Zealand’s female cricket teams.
From this point on, Twenty20 cricket quickly spread throughout cricket playing countries around the globe. Pakistan held their first national Twenty20 competition in 2004, and was followed by Australia in 2005. In Australia, the inaugural Twenty20 game took place at the WACA Ground in Perth, and for the first time in nearly 25 years the ground was completely filled with spectators. The following year, 19 West Indies regional teams squared off in the Standford 20/20 tournament.
In 2007, the first ever ICC World Twenty20 was arranged in South Africa, where the Indian team won by five runs against the Pakistani team in the final.