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The triumphant advance of Twenty20

The basic rules of Twenty20 are the same as the longer versions. But each team only plays one innings, which is limited to 20 overs (series of six successive throws by the same bowler) per side - with a maximum of four overs for each bowler (thrower) and restrictions on the placement of the field players. This makes it easier for the opposing batsman to score high points. An innings at Twenty20 lasts around 90 minutes, with a ten-minute break between innings.

This means that a Twenty20 match is over after around three hours, which enormously increases the attractiveness for TV broadcasts. The audience in the stadium immediately embraced the new format. For the first official match between Middlesex and Surrey on July 15, 2004 in London, 27,509 spectators came to Lord’s Cricket Ground - the most important and traditional address in cricket. There had last been such a crowd at a national match there in 1953.

Twenty20 brings cricket into the 21st century

In India, too, Twenty20 quickly became the most popular and lucrative game of cricket. The Indian Premier League (IPL), founded in 2008, is now the richest national league in the world, and its games regularly attract millions of people to watch TV. With its cheerleaders, loud music and fast-paced entertainment, Twenty20 is credited with resurrecting cricket in the 21st century that previously struggled with absent viewers and fewer sponsors.

The players initially had reservations about the format, but were quickly able to adapt to the new demands placed on them. Regardless of the role of the individual in the team, the bar has been raised in terms of fitness level. Athleticism and strength as well as speed and reaction time are more in demand with Twenty20 than with other forms of cricket.

The new format is to be Olympic

In June 2009, former Australian wicket keeper Adam Gilchrist urged Twenty20 to become an Olympic sport. It is difficult "to find a better, faster or cheaper way to get the game around the world," said Gilchrist. This could already be the case for the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles, as reported by Forbes magazine in August 2019.

But not everyone was happy with the new format. Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting criticized Twenty20 as being harmful to test cricket, which is seen as the purest and most complicated form of cricket. His compatriot Greg Chappell feared that Twenty20 would not allow young players to fully develop their skills in hitting. Former English team player Alex Tudor feared the same for the players' throwing skills.

Three different ways of playing cricket

Cricket is generally divided into national and international cricket, in which three different styles of play dominate today. At the international level, there are Test Cricket (up to five days), One-Day International (one day) and Twenty20 (approx. Three hours). At the national level there are leagues and tournaments in the three types of play: First-Class Cricket (three to four days), List-A Cricket (one day) and Twenty20 (approx. Three hours).

86 different nations have now played international matches in Twenty20. The men's team of the Austrian Cricket Federation (ÖCV), founded in 1981 by the Australian Kerry Tattersall, made its debut in this format on August 29, 2019, the ÖCV women played their first match a month earlier on July 31, 2019.

Twenty20 world ranking since 2011

World championships are played in One-Day International and Twenty20. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has world rankings for men in all three forms of play and rankings for women in two forms of play. Austria only appears in the Twenty20 ranking, which has existed since November 2011. The ÖCV men are currently in 38th place, the ÖCV women in 50th place.

The first Twenty20 World Cup took place in South Africa in 2007, the tournament winner was India, which defeated Pakistan in the final with five runs. The sixth and so far last World Cup in India was won by the West Indies (West Indies), with two titles they are also record world champions in the Twenty20 (2012 and 2016). The area of ​​the West Indies comprises most of the English-speaking Caribbean. The other title holders are Pakistan (2009), England (2010) and Sri Lanka (2014).

Test cricket has been played since 1877

The most traditional and respected form of competition is test cricket, which was first played between England and Australia in 1877. Only nations that are approved by the International Cricket Council (ICC) are allowed to participate in these international matches, which are usually embedded in a series of two to six tests. The prerequisite for this is that cricket is firmly established as a sport in the respective country and is played there professionally at a high level. Twelve nations currently have test status for men and ten countries for women.

National cricket teams with test status


nationFirst official test
AustraliaMarch 15, 1877
EnglandMarch 15, 1877
South Africa *March 12, 1889
West IndiesJune 23, 1928
New ZealandJanuary 10, 1930
IndiaJune 25, 1932
PakistanOctober 16, 1952
Sri Lanka17th February 1982
Zimbabwe *October 18, 1992
BangladeshNovember 10, 2000
IrelandMay 11, 2018
AfghanistanJune 14, 2018


nationFirst official test
New Zealand1935
South Africa1960
West Indies1976
Sri Lanka1998

The making of the Ashes legend

The duel between England and Australia, also known as "The Ashes", is not only the most traditional international match in cricket, it is also widely regarded as the most important. The Ashes legend dates back to the ninth clash in August 1882 in London's Oval Cricket Ground. It was England's first home defeat in a game believed to have been won and one of the most competitive test cricket matches of all time. The "Sporting Times" then published an "obituary" which stated that English cricket had died, "the body will be cremated and the ashes will be brought to Australia".

The term “ash” was immediately adopted by the English captain Ivo Bligh. Before the tenth test cricket series between the two teams, which began in the winter of 1882, Bligh swore to "regain these ashes". The English media therefore called the series the search for the recovery of the ashes. Of the 71 Ashes events so far, Australia won 33 times, England 32 times, and the series ended in a draw six times. In the singles matches (335 games) Australia leads with 136: 108 wins and 90 draws.

One-day cricket was also initially rejected

Largely due to the needs of television, a shorter and more dramatic format was introduced in the 1960s called One-Day Cricket. Like the Twenty20 in the 21st century, this new type of cricket enjoyed rapidly growing popularity - and one-day cricket was initially largely rejected by traditionalists.

As with test cricket, international matches - One-Day Internationals (ODI) - have mostly been held as part of a series (tour) (three to seven games) or take place in the form of a three-nation tournament since the 1970s. A world championship is held every four years in one-day mode. Only nations that have received ODI status from the ICC are allowed to participate.

Peter Falkner, ORF.at