Twenty20 cricket opens new international era

NEW DELHI, Sept 2, 2007 (AFP) – International cricket enters a new era of short, sharp entertainment from September 11 when the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship takes place in South Africa. Innovative strokeplay and a flurry of sixes and boundaries is the name of the 20-overs-a-side game designed for those looking for excitement, but don’t have the time or patience to sit through an entire day’s cricket.

Twenty20 matches provide instant gratification, lasting three hours as compared to seven hours for a one-dayer, and draw big crowds even as purists frown at the hit-and-giggle exercise.

The International Cricket Council, sensing a windfall, agreed to start a World Championship just two years after Australia and New Zealand played the first ever Twenty20 international in February, 2005.

The two-week event, to be held in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban from Sept 11-24, features the nine nations currently playing Test cricket along with Zimbabwe, Kenya and Scotland.

While Zimbabwe is a full member of the ICC, Kenya and Scotland qualified for the tournament by topping the World Cricket League for non-Test playing nations that was played in Nairobi at the start of this year