The T20 Tonk was what we needed


When word first travelled to Australia more than a decade ago about the success of a new form of cricket called Twenty20, I have to admit, I was sceptical.

Big hitting was one thing, but I couldn’t see how it would ever match Test cricket for its subtleties, the way playing conditions managed to change throughout the match and, on its best days, its ability to keep you gripped over five days.

But now, in the wake of the success of the Big Bash League, World T20 and the Indian Premier League, the shortest format of the game is no longer the revolution – it is the dominant paradigm.

Australia played some thrilling cricket during the recently concluded Test series against Pakistan.

But from day one onwards, it was played before ever dwindling crowds.

In contrast, the Big Bash League Melbourne derby played between the Renegades and the Stars on 2 January at the MCG drew a crowd of more than 71,000.

Indeed, if you visited any sports mad friends over the Christmas-New Year period, odds are the BBL was playing in the background.

The shortest form of the game has captured the public’s imagination and it’s great to see the Traralgon and District Cricket Association capitalising on its popularity.

And capitalise they did – in addition to 14 games played over the weekend, there was an exhibition of Milo T20 Blast junior cricket and a ‘biggest six’ competition in the lead-up to the main event.

After attending countless cricket matches over the years where the only spectators were the odd dutiful girlfriend or enthusiastic group of mates with a well-stocked Esky, it was refreshing to turn up to a ground and struggle to get a park.

What was even more exciting was seeing families and women coming to watch a sport which has traditionally been seen as a bit of a lads‘ game.

As many cricket administrators would tell you, it’s not hard to get people interested in cricket but it is difficult to keep them interested in a day-long game given the many other things they could be doing on a summer’s day.

While events like the T20 Tonk aren’t a silver bullet for cricket’s woes, what will boost the game is associations thinking outside the box and being willing to embrace new ideas.

Based on what was on show yesterday at Duncan Cameron Park, the TDCA can count itself among cricket’s more progressive associations.

It may just have reshaped the way Twenty20 tournaments are approached in the region too.