Twenty20 for 2020?

With the short version of the game gaining popularity, there are those who want to see the game being included in the next Olympics. Chennai Times weighs the chances of this becoming a reality

Some say it’s about the love of the game, others contend that it’s all about the glamour. Love it, hate it, but you just can’t ignore it. The Twenty20 format of cricket is one that has captured the attention of cricket lovers worldwide as a fresh, entertaining and high-voltage form of cricket and it seems like it is here to stay.
Be it IPL or ICL, this electrifying form of the game has held fort in a country that treats cricket as a religion and players reach a demigod status. When former Australian star Adam Gilchrist called for the inclusion of cricket’s Twenty20 format at the 2020 Olympics, saying it will help secure the global future of the game, enthusiasts said that it was definitely an “idea worth pursuing.” So what is the argument against it then? If cricketers are gung-ho about this exciting format and are raring to go, why is there a ride against the tide?
“It’s not that easy to include Twenty20 cricket in the Olympics. Sure, cricket is treated as a religion in a country like ours and I personally would love to see it at the Olympics, but you got to remember that cricket is played mostly by the Commonwealth countries. This does not include a huge chunk of the population and that could be a disadvantage for the cause of cricket at the Olympics. The Olympics is an international platform with a wide reach. I don’t see it happening in the near future,” says Kris Srikanth, commentator and former Indian cricketer.
Let’s face a couple of facts here. While Twenty20 is definitely a more exciting and glamourous way to play cricket, what with the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta cheering and hooting from the stands, no one can take away from the fact that one-day and Test cricket are definitely more skillful versions of the game. Former Indian cricketer and coach, Anshuman Gaekwad agrees. Says he, “The old glory of cricket cannot be replaced by new versions of the game. That being said, I don’t think Test or oneday cricket will fit in the Olympic mould. We need something fast and exciting, that doesn’t take up too much time. Twenty20 is like instant
coffee, you get
the hit when you need it and it will appeal to an international audience because it has a universal appeal.”
Experts of the game argue that Twenty20 should at least have a test run at the 2012 London Olympics. With the Olympics due to take place in the summer of 2012 and some of the most historic cricket pitches in London willing to play host to the event, the move for Twenty20 cricket to be included has a growing number of high-profile supporters from the cricketing world, including Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh, VVS Laxman, Kapil Dev, Steve Waugh, Kumar Sangakkara and Stephen Fleming.
Lakshmipathy Balaji, who holds the distinction of getting the first hat-trick of the IPL tournament in the match against Kings XI Punjab in Chennai, is another supporter of the format. “With a number of countries like USA and Netherlands also diving into the field of cricket, the popularity clause does not hold true. The Olympics run on a tight, time-based schedule and Twenty20 is just the format to follow,” says he. Former Ranji player and coach, Kedarnath agrees with Balaji and adds that the gentleman’s game has long been replaced
with a new and exciting format and it’s about time we flowed with the tide. The fervour of Twenty20 magic has reached an allnew frenzy. Cricketers are pushing the buttons of the Board to make a case for cricket as an official game of the Olympics and the heat has been turned on. Will they or won’t they? Well, if the opinions are anything to go by, we don’t think it will be too long before Bhajji spins a doosra at the Olympics and the crowd cheers and hoots. Who said it was a gentleman’s game again?