The 2018 T10 Cricket league has just wrapped up the second season with a bang, as the Northern Warriors beat out Pakhtoon to claim victory in the final.
All the squads this season were filled with exciting players from all over the world, despite the fact that most countries were involved in international series in between the domestic cricket seasons. Hosted out of Sharjah's Cricket Stadium, the league has produced a spectacle full of entertainment and fast-paced cricket.
While T10 was derided in the past, like T20, as being too batsman-friendly. This wasn't necessarily the case as bowlers used intelligent bowling and variety to bamboozle batsman, leading to figures like Chris Jordan's 4/6 against Maratha Arabians or Pravin Tambe's 5/15 against the Kerala Knights.
The other advantage of T10 is the knock-on effect it will have on T20 leagues around the world, similarly to the effect T20 has had on One Day domestic and international matches. Once again, the shorter format of the game will force both batters and bowlers to adapt to the harder conditions or perish in the increasingly competitive world of International cricket, both for countries and at a franchise level.
The inaugural tournament, held back in 2017, was held over the course of 4 days with most teams playing 2 games a day, including all the finals which took place on 17th of December. This years tournament took place between the 21st of November and wrapped up with the final on the 2nd of December, with 10 days full of action-packed cricket.
Given the success of this tournament, it is highly likely that it will be renewed once again for a third straight year and given its growth it will probably come back stronger, hopefully with a bigger budget to attract more big names to the tournament from countries like India, Australia, and South Africa, whose main stars were unavailable due to international cricket schedule clashes.
Here are three reasons why T10 has a viable future as cricket's fourth format.
#3 Bowlers have an equal say
One of the biggest criticisms of the T20 format, and by extension the shorter T10, is that the game is skewed too much in favor of the big-hitting batsman and makes it harder for bowlers to develop and play well.
Anyone that watched the bowling performances at this years T10 tournament could clearly show how good bowling and variation is still a key part of the game, ever at T10, and while Batsmen are expected to hit big, it gives a greater opportunity for bowlers to take wickets at the same time.
From Aamer Yamin's 4 wicket maiden against the Northern Warriors to Pravin Tambe's 5 wicket haul against Kerala Knights, the bowling has improved wildly in as little as a season for the T10 league.
During the 2017 T10 season, the leading wicket-takers, Sohail Tanvir, Rayad Emrit, and Hasan Ali all finished on 5 wickets each over the course of the tournament. This season it was Hardus Viljoen who finished with the most wickets, taking 18 wickets in his 9 games, followed by Dwayne Bravo and Mohammed Irfan who both finished on 10 wickets.
This increase in the wickets shows that bowlers aren't out of the game at all in T10 matches and, just like in the other forms, play a crucial part in the outcome of the match.
#2 Potential to spread cricket all around the world
The 2018 season of the T10 league had players representing countries from India, Pakistan, the West Indies, England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, as well as representation from smaller cricketing nations, like Nepal, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, the USA, the UAE, Ireland, and the Netherlands. In total, the squads represented players from 16 different countries around the world.
With cricket growing as a game around the world, with suggestions of its submission to become an Olympic sport being taken into consideration, T10 could be the format that gets cricket there.
T10 would be the ideal format to take to new fans in North American audiences like the United States and Canada. While T20 has become the biggest format in the game, ahead of the One Day format or test series, the T10 format can be used to introduce new fans to the game of cricket, much like how Rugby Sevens has worked wonderfully in bringing in American audiences to the game of Rugby.
#1 It's just the beginning
The T10 league has just finished its second tournament and the names that it has attracted are amongst the best players in the world, from West Indians like Darren Sammy, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine to England stars like Sam Billings, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan, and Alex Hales.
Great players from Pakistan, New Zealand, Bangladesh and the top talent from smaller cricketing countries like Zimbabwe, Ireland, and Afghanistan also participated in the tournament.
While the first tournament was played over the course of 4 days, this year the tournament was played over 10 days, giving players the more of a chance to rest between games and get the best of their abilities during the tournament without overtaxing them.
The tournament is the first of it's kind, and no other countries have thought about introducing T10 into their domestic season, or even an international game between two sides has not even been suggested. This leaves large amounts of room for this new shortest format of the game to grow into, potentially expanding into areas like North and South America, as well as continental Europe, were traditional cricket doesn't have as strong a grip.