International T20s And Cricket’s Future

I’d never considered England coach Trevor Bayliss to be a philosophical ally of The Full Toss, but I found myself applauding his comments about T20 internationals this weekend. After England’s elimination from T20 Tri-series at Hamilton, Bayliss suggested that international T20s should be scrapped. Why? Because nobody give two hoots about the result. The games are just colourful TV wallpaper with about as much meaning as WWF (that’s the World Wrestling Federation not the World Wildlife Fund by the way!).

Ok, I admit I’ve embellished Trev’s words somewhat. Here’s what he actually said:

I’d just let the franchises play (T20). If we continue putting on so many games there’ll be a certain amount of blowout, not just players but coaches as well. If you want to play a World Cup every four years or whatever it is, maybe six months before you get the international teams and let them play some T20 internationals.

Although the England coach handled the subject more sensitively than I would’ve liked – I’d have preferred him to shrug his shoulders and say “I’m done with this rubbish” – I think his message was clear. And he’s not alone in his views.

It’s pretty obvious to most cricket fans that international T20s just clog up an already overcrowded schedule. They’re good fun, and an enjoyable bit of light entertainment at the end of long tours, but everyone’s exhausted by the time they come around. So wouldn’t it be better to simply abolish the damned things?

My personal interest in what was originally an Ashes tour ended after the third ODI. In fact, I was already pretty weary before the ODI series began – catastrophic 0-4 test series defeats tend to do that to me. I accept this could be because I’m a blogger, and a big sequence of matches increases my workload, but I sensed that everyone else in the UK had become somewhat disengaged too.

The surfeit of white ball cricket these days proves the old adage that one can have too much of a good thing. And it’s not just the number of matches either. T20 cricket now has so many boundaries, and so many big scores, that it’s hard to get excited anymore.

When Australia pulled off that world record chase against New Zealand the other day, in a game which saw nearly 500 runs in just 40 overs, I was completely underwhelmed. The more fours and sixes you see, the less special they become. And if records get broken every other day, then breaking records becomes less interesting too.

I tweeted about the meaningless nature of T20 cricket (or at least this particular T20 series) at the weekend after England’s defeat. I argued that it was just ‘pure entertainment’ – a comment that raised a few eyebrows. The obvious replies (and I knew they were coming) was that sport is meant to be entertainment, so what was I moaning about?

However, sport isn’t just entertainment. It has to have meaning. And the more you have of something the less meaningful it becomes. If the action comes so thick and fast that there’s no time for digestion or reflection, what you’re essentially left with is a bad blockbuster movie with lots of special effects but no substance.

One senses that T20 has now become a series of exhibition matches, or even worse, a bad Star Wars movie. A long time ago (in the Milky Way galaxy) a new instalment of the Star Wars saga was something to be excited about. But after endless spin offs, bad prequels, and the realisation that there’s going to be a new film every year, the franchise’s original fans are becoming jaded and somewhat disillusioned. The same is happening to T20 cricket – with Tom Harrison starring prominently as Jar Jar Binks.

In recent times I’ve even found myself betting on T20 cricket to create some tension and added interest. It’s a good way to make the result matter when you don’t have an emotional stake in the action. Perhaps this is why betting on cricket is now so prevalent, even in places like India and the US where gambling is restricted and you have to research the safest ways to fund your sportsbook accounts. I know that gambling and T20 cricket have become inextricably linked in many parts of the world. Perhaps this is one reason why?

All of the above leads me to question whether T20 is just a fad or whether it can last indefinitely? If players and coaches like Bayliss are getting burned out, then surely the fans can too. It’s worth noting that there have been plenty of empty seats at the Tri-series games. One Hobart resident even tweeted me to say that entrance was free at the Bellerive Oval (after a certain time) but they still couldn’t fill the ground.

Maybe one day crowds will realise that T20 is essentially one dimensional and bowlers are just canon fodder. I’d be interested to know if the IPL, for example, is getting more and more popular every year or whether they’ve reached a plateau already. I noted with interest that the Big Bash has lost £33m in its first 5 years. They hope to recover this cash in the next broadcasting deal but this is by no means certain.

Before I sign off, I’d like to remind people that I’m not anti-T20. I enjoy watching the shortest form and I think it has a valuable role to play in cricket’s future. However, like Trevor Bayliss, I feel there’s too much of it. Roast the golden goose too much and all that will be left is charcoal … and eventually an awful lot of debt.

James Morgan

Written in collaboration with

2018-02-19T13:31:49+00:00February 19th, 2018|Talking Points|34 Comments


  1. Pete Cresswell February 19, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    NZ’s Mike Hesson makes an interesting riposte to Bayliss – of course you’re a lot less burnt out when you’re lucky to get to play a 3 test series alongside the white ball stuff

    The 35,000 people at Eden Park on Friday is probably a similar volume of spectators to what NZ got for the whole test series vs Pakistan

  2. Andy February 19, 2018 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Interesting timing when the schedule for 2020-2024 internationals was released last week showing an increase in the number of T20’s at the expense of test matches.

    • James Morgan February 19, 2018 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      Yes. I doubt Bayliss’s words would have endeared him to his employers.

  3. Chris February 19, 2018 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    Sorry James, I think that, while I agree you are right, you are actually wrong when you say: “However, sport isn’t just entertainment. It has to have meaning.” As my wife constantly points out to me as I refuse to go to yet another intellectually moribund movie, people do not want to go somewhere to think they just want to escape and be entertained!

    • James Morgan February 19, 2018 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      I think part of the drama / entertainment is knowing that both sides really want to win and everyone is invested in the action. Perhaps I could have phrased that better.

  4. JackieL February 19, 2018 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    I see no purpose to this. International T20 games are a much higher standard than the franchise stuff. Three international games are hardly worth complaining about compared to the endless months of IPL which does dilute interest. It is just impossible to follow the tournament through its endless rounds of the same teams playing each other day in day out.

    International T20 can improve interest if they stop trying to be “entertaining”, which is at the lowest level of engagement, and provide pitches for battles between bat and ball which make use of a huge range of skills including captaincy.

    T20 provides a much better game of cricket to watch if it follows more closely the usual norms of cricket to balance bat and ball. Anything else demeans the game. The pitch should be more challenging and helpful to bowlers. The BBL have pitches which appear to help bowlers. Can’t be that difficult. Maybe NZ should have the courage to curate a T20I venue for a proper game of cricket however short the format.

    International T20 games allow local cricket fans to see great international players at their local ground.

    There was the same argument about ODIs. It was fashionable not so long ago to want them abandoned too. But again they create the opportunity to see live international cricket at local venues.

    Now that the Test venue circuit has been cut down to the old former Test venues, international cricket needs other outings to keep the game alive in England. There is drama when England come to play.

    I hate to ask where you are based James. I just hope you are not too London centric.

    • James Morgan February 19, 2018 at 5:25 pm - Reply

      I’m now based in Kent but have indeed lived in London. I grew up watching cricket at New Road. One way to make the action more relevant would be to have the T20s before the tests. The single T20 between England and Australia at the Rose Bowl was so significant because we absolutely smashed the Aussies that day, and it put down a marker for the cricket ahead. I like it when white ball matches are tasters for the real cricket.

  5. SimonH February 19, 2018 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    IMO there are some different things being confused here. The schedule for this tour is terrible and of course fans tend to say they care less about competitions their teams are doing badly in. Those are not the same as bi- and tri-lateral T20Is. Reduce the ODI series to three matches each instead!

    I’d like the T20 WC held every two years (one within the ambit of the Olympics). I’d then be happy for T20Is to be very geared towards that competition with some fixtures arranged as warm-ups and not much else. Of course it would be crucial to hold this tournament in countries like NZ so they can get the financial boost – but the B3 have been hoarding these for themselves.

    Eliminating T20 from international cricket for effectively three years in four will criple the game in the smaller nations and damage international cricket generally.

    I also wanted to add that the Lions had another poor day and that I find the UK cricket media’s virtual total ignoring of their tour very difficult to understand.

    • James Morgan February 19, 2018 at 5:27 pm - Reply

      The Lions have been really disappointing thus far. The old England A games used to get a lot more coverage back in the day. Unless I’m imagining it.

      • Cricketcricketcricket February 19, 2018 at 10:07 pm - Reply

        Name more than th odd one or two lions players who are seriously challenging for test places…

        Duckett.. having a laugh
        Crane .. not really
        Leech not really

        List goes on

        • AB February 20, 2018 at 4:48 pm - Reply

          Based on his performances, Leech should be, but for some reason Andy Flower hates his guts and so he will never be picked.

    • Cricketcricketcricket February 19, 2018 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      The lions games are pretty meaningless tbh

      It’s like wanting to watch county 2xi’s who are usually a few ok players and a load of never going to make its

  6. Doug February 19, 2018 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    I’m by no means convinced that there is a “high ” standard” for T20 anymore that it can follow the “norms of cricket”. In 20 overs? Sorry but I think not. It’s appeal, if that’s what you call it is based on wacking balls out of the ground as much as possible, till it becomes meaningless dribble. The drinkers like it because they have no interest in whose playing anyway, and they make up well over 50% of the Oval crowd on a Friday. A team of gorillas would pull in the same amount.
    And no Internationals are pointless. There no better than a domestic T20. The IPL exists purely as a object for illegal betting, why would you play dozens of crappy games otherwise?
    Call it Whackit rather than Cricket, because cricket it isn’t. What was once a bit of fun for a couple if weeks is now destroying the game with the ECB’s blessing.

  7. AndyB February 19, 2018 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    I quite like the Star Wars analogy with Harrison as Jar Jar Binks. I presume Gatting would have the role of Jabba the Hutt whilst Vaughan would take the new role of Jar Jar Binks brother, Jaw Jaw Bonks. My only problem is the improbable plot involving Bayliss’ return from the dark side. But we must be grateful for miracles.

  8. Marc Evans February 19, 2018 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Bayliss has never made any secret of his views on 20-20. Right from the beginning of his appointment he said this format was better left to the specialist franchises. He has nothing against it, being a white ball advocate anyway, but he clearly sees it impacting oh his ODI baby, as much as on test cricket.
    Leave it to the franchises and the world’s top players can still be seen playing this format. It is always exciting to see the best testing themselves against the best, which is as meaningful an any international, as the general standard is higher and batsmen and bowlers have to earn their runs and wickets, rather than at present, witness England’s shoddy bowling against New Zealand, being presented with easy runs due to lack of thought and technique. International 20-20’s have a lot of 2nd rate players participating, the Franchises recruit the cream, so every team has world class players, who seem to respond just as well playing as mercenaries. It is high profile and repeated failure means the chop, whatever your reputation. In the IPL the local Indian players clearly benefit from having these stars around and not just in 20-20. It’s about developing a winning mentality and a determination to keep proving yourself. This translates itself to all forms of the game. No co-incidence they’re doing well in South Africa.
    I know plenty of this blog will rubbish my views, but I happen to think 20-20 is as skilful a game as any. It’s not just about a good eye for batsmen and negative tactics in the field, every ball is an event and this makes it fascinating to watch, especially live, where you can how fields are set and traps are laid. It never drifts. When you’re watching put yourself in the captain’s shoes and see if you can second guess tactics. It’s a different way to watch the game and a real eye-opener.

    • Cricketcricketcricket February 19, 2018 at 10:11 pm - Reply

      Your right… Chris lynn is technically class.. not just a hand/eye hitter

      Darcy short…

      Big fat guy who played BBL…

      Ben dunk

      List goes on and on.. IPL also has a lot of average players in it..

      It’s not a high standard at all really.. it’s just marketed well

    • Cricketcricketcricket February 19, 2018 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      And Carlos braithwaite.. such a class batsmen.. oh wait .. nope.. hitter..

      Ah buttler.. now he’s technically good. Oh wait

      • Marc Evans February 20, 2018 at 12:05 am - Reply

        20-20 is the most difficult game to maintain any consistency in as a batsman as you are taking so many risks. There are far more average players in international 20-20 teams than internationals in the IPL. It’s no good nit-picking, anyone can do that and expose a few floored players, it’s about overall standards.
        This is exactly the sort of crass response I expected!!!
        This blog has become so predictable it’s untrue. Try to see beyond prejudice.
        I don’t like the game so it’s crap is not an constructive line to take.

        • AB February 20, 2018 at 11:10 am - Reply

          cricketcricketcricket does not represent the views of this blog or its commenters.

          Personally I think buttler is absolute class.

          The IPL is shit though. The whole thing is just one giant betting scam, but so many people just refuse to believe the evidence in front of their eyes.

          • Tate February 20, 2018 at 7:32 pm - Reply

            What evidence do you have exactly?

            • AB February 21, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

              The fact that two teams were banned for, ahem, “betting irregularities” (aka match-fixing).

              You can’t seriously watch the IPL and conclude that cricketers can be that incompetent by accident, can you?

          • Cricketcricketcricket February 20, 2018 at 9:08 pm - Reply

            And yet I have a successful Cricket company., go figure

            • AB February 21, 2018 at 10:14 am - Reply

              You leveraged inherited family money to exploit the enthusiasm of local cricketers. Doesn’t actually mean you know anything about the sport.

  9. Gav February 19, 2018 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    international cricket is pretty meaningless now. It’s almost entirely temporary bragging rights and not much else. 90% of games mean nothing

  10. Andy Cheese February 19, 2018 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Bayliss is a sore loser isn’t he. It would be a different story if England had won.

  11. Nick February 19, 2018 at 11:13 pm - Reply

    When considering changes to the game you have to consider all the stakeholders and not be overly swayed by your current mood. England seem to have been on tour for ages and its caused a fatigue among their followers myself included but stepping away from that. I am a fan of the nine match tour Three Tests, Three ODIs and Three T20s that leave plenty of variety without a team or a format overstaying their welcome.

    It does seem like real pressure is coming onto the Cricketing landscape England have played 19 non WC T20s since TB took over (three years worth). They are not over crowding the calender so if he wants to redo his contract and let Farbrace be head coach for them then go ahead.

    If I can take a bit of liberty with the numbers and include the NZ ODI series in 2015 and the one about to start England play three times as many ODIs as T20s. If many are to be believed ODIs are a dying format, the ECB themselves are turning the domestic competition into a second XI affair that will have to compete with Test Matches and City Cricket for players.

    Whatever the future holds T20 will be in it and the fatigue in the format is being caused a club level so giving it completely to them won’t solve anything. Jos Buttler things T20 could be the only three left it 15 years which is possible but if that is the case its going to have to answer its questions about over supply and the balance between bat and ball

  12. Comte February 20, 2018 at 8:16 am - Reply

    If T20, in all forms, were to be wiped out by a pandemic of real cricket I would not mourn.
    Neither would I shed a tear if Mr Bayliss were to seek other job opportunities.

  13. SimonH February 20, 2018 at 8:50 am - Reply

    After Baylis’s latest comments (about scrapping T20Is: “‘It’s my personal opinion and I am not the only one to feel this way”; about rotating players: “is it fair on everyone if you are not playing your full team?’) anyone feel like buying a ticket for one of the summer T20Is?….

    Meanwhile, Leach takes 6 wickets, Crane takes none and the Lions’ tour continues as if it had been designed to show up the foolishness of England’s selections (which may explain the almost total news’ blackout on it – Cricinfo and BBC now aren’t even bothering with live scorecards).

    • Cricketcricketcricket February 20, 2018 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      Majority who buy a 2020 ticket ar there for the beer.. not the Cricket

      • AB February 21, 2018 at 10:16 am - Reply

        At the Oval perhaps. Not at the other grounds I’ve been to. The crowd at Trent Bridge for the T20 are as passionate about Notts as any I’ve seen. In tense moments, you can here a pin drop.

  14. Cricket-Now February 20, 2018 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    I suggest just having a one-off T20 on a Sunday after such a long tour… makes for some good entertainment on an off day for the viewers and also ends the tour on a lighter note after all the on-field altercations!

    • Tate February 20, 2018 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      I’d certainly go for something similar – why the hell has there been several days between each game in this last series? Surely they can manage a game every day when it is only T20? Add in an extra day if they have to cross the Tasman. Get the whole thing done and dusted in a week then f-off home. I love the format by the way. Equally as much as I love the other two formats.

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