What is the future of T10 cricket?
We are experiencing the birth of a new baby that has no mother to tell us what is right and what isn't. There are no theories and no laws, not yet; there is only hypothesis. What we are convinced about is that we are seeing the beginning of a revolution. In times to come, those of us fortunate enough to be around here will say 'I was there'.
The one defining factor, indeed the biggest factor is that a team has 10 wickets in hand over a short period. Everything else, the shot making, the running between wickets, even the bowling, derives from this.
That changes definitions of risk as we know it and, in doing so, this game will create its own grammar. And the feeling is that most early theories will get buried.
This is where having ten wickets will come in handy. The price of a wicket diminishes in direct proportion to the number of overs. The greater the number of overs, the higher the value of the wicket; correspondingly, the fewer the number of overs, the greater risk you can take, and so batsman can play the desperate shot quite early.
That is the opportunity for the bowler, but I also suspect something else is going to happen. We are all talking about this being a batsman's game. But don't forget that the batsmen are expected to go hell for leather, to hit the ball a bus-stop away. The pressure is on them to deliver and, so, there is always an opportunity for a calm bowler and a calm captain.
As batsman take chances, they will discover that some of them aren't as earlier perceived. In Test cricket, for example, hitting in the air was frowned upon earlier for fear that you might get caught. In recent years, batsmen have discovered that hitting through the line and over the top isn't as dangerous as was thought. That was due to Twenty20 cricket.
Now, T10 will induce a similar change in perception and make 20-over cricket faster. Just to give you an example, batsmen tend to check their shot if they find they have been deceived by a slower ball. Here, they might discover that if they keep going, there might be a decent percentage of safety.
T10 cricket will change the definition of a good bowler. When Joel Garner was bowling in limited overs cricket, 3.5 an over was a routine. Now we believe that anything under 8 an over on most days is good bowling. Here, bowlers will say that under 25 runs in 2 overs is very good. In fact, they may well assess themselves on a ball-by-ball basis and regard a ball not scored off as a little victory in itself.
Make no mistake- this is a game for the six hitters and for the inventive batsman. If 15 an over becomes a good score and 12 an over becomes the minimum, the well-placed and briskly run two will diminish in value. The single won't be as critical either.
Remember there are no middle overs in this game. It is a slogfest. The urgency to score quick runs never ceases because, again, you have 10 wickets to lose over 10 overs.
So how do we enjoy T10 cricket? By not equating it to anything we already know. We enjoy a pani-puri without lamenting about the absence of a slow-cooked Hyderabadi biryani. Just as there is room on the plate and in the stomach for both, so too with T10 and Twenty20 and 50-over cricket.
Those who say, 'this is not cricket' and splutter over their coffee can pull out their manual typewriter, search for photographic film and call in the pigeons to send messages. Just enjoy it for what it is. Sometimes it is good to put the jacket and tie aside and slip on a round-neck tee. With a few minor tweaks, T10 can be the future format of the game.