Joe Won’t Like Cricket, He’ll Love It

Joe, one of the guys who runs On Nottingham has never been to a cricket game. So, we’re going to take him to a Twenty:20 game at Trent Bridge to see Nottinghamshire play. But what can he expect and why should he go?

Cricket has a bit of a reputation problem. In what other sport can you play for five days and end up with a draw? Where else do both teams wear the same coloured kit? Even in chess, one side gets black. It’s a sport that can unravel at a snail’s pace for hours, with very few highlights to punctuate the boredom.

Yes, test cricket can sometimes be a grind and it’s easy to see why people could be put off it. However, Twenty:20 (sometimes called T20) is a completely different sport even though the basic skills are the same. The nearest analogy I can think of is running – T20 is the 100m to the marathon of a test match.

But if it’s still essentially the same game, what makes T20 better? What makes it more exciting?

Firstly, and most boringly, it’s logistics. The longer form of cricket usually starts at 11:00 and finishes around 18:00. That means that if you work the normal 9-5, you have to take a day off to go and watch it. T20 starts at 18:30 and even better than that, each innings is a maximum of an hour. So, you can be in the pub talking about the result by 21:00.

The name Twenty:20 comes from the fact that each team only gets twenty overs when they are batting. Each over is 6 balls so you only have maximum of 120 balls to make as many runs as possible. With so little time in which to score, the emphasis is on the batsmen to play positively.

The flip-side of this is that when the batsmen are taking more risks to score quickly, they are more likely to make a mistake and get out. Hence you get a condensed form of the game that actually seems more like a highlights package with almost every ball being either runs or a wicket.

Putting aside the slightly cheesy team names (yes, Nottinghamshire’s team really is called the Outlaws), the game is also presented as more of a spectacle. While it may not have the cheerleaders and fireworks of the T20 in India, there is still music after every boundary and wicket and coloured kits so that you actually feel like you’re watching two different teams. Notts also have a giant squirrel mascot.

The atmosphere is also great at Trent Bridge. While not quite filled with the communal chanting found at Meadow Lane of The City Ground, there is also a lack of the effing and jeffing that you’d find there making it much more family friendly.

The big thing that the Outlaws (yes, I’m going to use that name) have going for them at the moment is the quality of their players. They have Alex Hales, who is currently ranked number 3 Twenty:20 batsman in the world. They have current England international James Taylor and former one Samit Patel. Riki Wessels enjoyed a great winter in the Australian T20 competition while recent signing Brendan Taylor enjoyed a fine World Cup for Zimbabwe. Notts have also just signed Darren Sammy, a West Indian who is one of the finest T20 players in the world.

Other sides have a similar mix of local and international talent but one of the big advantages T20 has is its unpredictability. In a test, you often know who should win before a ball is bowled and if one team has a great first day it can be a long wait until the inevitable happens. However, in Twenty:20, there is always a chance that the underdog could win. For example, Leicestershire, who haven’t won a four-day game in two years have a good record in the Twenty:20.

Finally, it’s a bargain; it’s only £15 for a ticket. When you compare that to how much you’d pay for a football match, it’s really good value for two hours of entertainment.

In fact, there are only really two downsides to the T20. Two hours isn’t really long enough to have enough drinks and, just like its longer cousin, it’s still at the mercy to those words that every cricket fan hates to hear – rain stopped play.

I’m sure that Joe will have a great time, even if he doesn’t quite understand all of the finer points of the game (don’t worry, “leg bye” isn’t some Freemason thing) I’ve seen a number of people who have described themselves as not being cricket fans who have gone to see Twenty:20 and have loved it. The pace of the game and the all action nature of T20 wins over even the biggest hater.

Author’s notes

Originally written in July 2015 to convince Joe from On Nottingham that he should give Twenty:20 cricket a try despite not being a fan. Published on the On Nottingham website

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