The way in which cricket is perceived has changed radically over the last decade. No longer is it seen as a dull sport watched by older men snoozing off after one too many G&Ts. The rise of T20 cricket was initially bemoaned by the aforementioned spectators but has gone a long way into introducing the game to a new generation. The T20 Blast has been shunted around the cricketing schedule for a number of years but has finally found a home in the middle of the summer.
The competition cannot compete with the Indian Premier League in terms of glamour and bombast but some of the world’s finest players are on show. From the brutal hitting of Australia’s Aaron Finch to the wily bowling of South Africa’s Imran Tahir, there are many international stars mixing with England’s own stellar names.
Although the emphasis is very much on building large scores, bowlers have adapted to try and reduce the onslaught of the batsmen, resulting in some very tight games. Last Thursday saw Middlesex involved in a very tight game with south London rivals Surrey. After Surrey had built a competitive total of 158-9 thanks to 70 from Kumar Sangakkara, Middlesex looked to be cruising towards their target. However, a devastating spell from Gareth Batty induced a collapse from 133-3 to 153-9.
Enter last batsman Steven Finn, one of the fast bowlers who had been thrashed around Lord’s. Although an imposing bowler at 6’6″, he made an awkward batsman, nervously reaching for deliveries and being fortunate to be not given out leg before wicket. Six runs were needed. Four of them came in the form of extras when a ball from Ravi Rampaul went down the leg side and into the boundary. Finn then finally made contact with a shot, pulling a ball into the deep midwicket boundary.
T20 cricket offers the chance to watch a mixture of home grown stars mix with some of the finest international players in the world right now. It’s loud, fast and with plenty of intrigue. Every ball is important and the game can go in a number of directions. Rather than a game going on for days, it is all over in a matter of hours. It’s the perfect way to entertain yourself over the summer and it’s all kicking off now!
Natwest T20 Blast
Lords Cricket Ground
St. John’s Wood