T20 cricket helping cricket prosper overall, says Ricky Ponting
While there is a debate going on, for a number of years now, over the sustenance of Test cricket in the era of Twenty20s, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has admitted that the condensed format of the game would stay for some time and then slowly vanish into oblivion.
Ponting is considered one of the modern greats of cricket. Having been closely involved with twenty20 cricket, first with the Indian Premier League as a player for Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians and then as a commentator in the ongoing Big Bash League in Australia, Ponting made this statement, admitting that over time, his perception about the game has changed.
"When T20 first started, I thought it would be best used to market and promote the other formats of the game but that was it," Ponting was quoted on Tuesday (January 19).
"I didn't expect it to last as long as it has."
Pointing said that the turnout for the Big Bash games has been unprecedented this season and that people are watching more cricket now. Big Bash 2016 saw families turn up in numbers in the stadiums, which provides enough evidence that not only the shorter format of the game is wanted more by the spectators but also that Twenty20 cricket is here to stay.
"It can't hurt the overall game," said Ponting. "Everyone says no one likes one-day cricket anymore, and the Test match crowds are dropping off. At the end of the day, you have more people watching cricket like never before. Cricket as a whole has never been in better shape. One format was always going to start cannibalising the other, but I think it will actually start to regenerate fans back into the format as well."
The Big Bash League, which was established by Cricket Australia in 2011, has been following the same format since its inaugural year. The first season of BBL had 28 group stage matches, while the following seasons expanded to 32 matches in the group stage. As the current season of Big Bash is closing in towards the conclusion, talks of expansion and more teams is on the way. Currently among the top 10 most watched leagues in the world, Ponting believes that the Big Bash League has the perfect format now.
“I know there's been a talk of expansion and more teams, but I wouldn't be messing with something that's been as good as it is," Ponting said. "Even when you talk to the international players: it's a short, condensed tournament on the best grounds in Australia. If you start stretching it out, I'd be having second thoughts of that."