Indian cricket gets its first bumper season of T20. It began at the end of January and will continue unabated till May-end. No Tests. No ODIs. Nothing but T20s.
A 3-match T20 series just concluded in Australia. Next is a similar one against Sri Lanka.
Then the team heads for Bangladesh for the inaugural T20 Asia Cup—After that it's back home for the World Cup. Finally, no season is complete without the IPL which will see Guru MS Dhoni leading the new Rising Pune Supergiants and his disciple Suresh Raina leading Gujarat Lions.
Here's a quick question. How many 3-match T20 series has India played from 2006-15?
The answer is zero. And now Team India will play two such series in a span of just three weeks! It's just a matter of time before we have 5-match and 7-match series.
We haven't had a single proper T20 tournament apart from the World Cup till 2015.
That changes with the T20 Asia Cup. The truth is that the ICC has been suppressing international T20s but now it seems to be giving in to the pressure.
T20 cricket was born in 2003 and was a success even though the BCCI desperately tried to not adopt it at that time. The first international T20 was played in 2005 and the 2007 World Cup changed everything and IPL followed.
But if you notice then the ICC and BCCI made sure that there were no other tournaments or long series. There were many reasons for that. For one, ODIs are cash cows and there are far lesser ad breaks in T20s.
Secondly it was felt that the schedule was packed with international Tests and ODIs and there was no space for international T20s. That's why you had the strange 1-off match or 2-match series being played all the time.
However most Test stadiums continue to be empty and long ODI series and triangulars do not see the same kind of enthusiasm. Australia discontinued the triangular and then re-introduced it and looks quite confused as what to do with it. An international T20 triangular or quadrangular could well change that.
T20s are more exciting and more competitive. It is virtually impossible for Kenya and difficult for Bangladesh to beat India in a Test match. The gap can be narrowed in ODIs.
Kenya and Bangladesh have both reached the knock-out phase of the ODI World Cup.
In T20s that gap is narrowed even further. If the top 15-20 cricketing teams play T20s on a regular basis then we may have more competitive international cricket and a greater chance for the game to spread.
The truth is that only four teams have held the ICC No. 1 Test rankings and only five have won an ODI World Cup. Cricket has no hope of spreading further or becoming competitive unless it fully embraces the T20 format.
Longer T20 series, more tournaments and more new teams getting exposure will transform cricket. In fact West Indies had totally dropped from the radar in Tests and ODIs, but they have totally embraced T20. They even won a World Cup and you could say that T20 revived the career of Chris Gayle. England also won a T20 WC and they look totally hopeless at ODIs.
As far as money is concerned, maybe initially 5 T20s may generate the same amount of revenue that 3 ODIs make. So the future will see a maximum number of T20s and much lesser ODIs and Tests and this trend has already begun with the Indian T20 season of 2016.
Founding chairman Lalit Modi had envisaged 12-14 IPL teams and two seasons a year.
One must say that despite all the scandals, controversies and bankruptcies, the IPL still marches on into its ninth season. That has more to do with the interest of the fan in the shorter format than the vision of our administrators.
Apart from the 8 Test playing nations, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and Scotland all have domestic T20 leagues. That was impossible for First Class cricket and didn't even happen for ODIs.
Ryan ten Doeschate of the Netherlands made waves when he got picked up at the IPL auction.
We are finally at the cusp of a new age when T20 could well take over cricket completely.
And the 2016 season that is seeing a record number of series and tournaments could well usher in that age!
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here