Some traditionalists consider Twenty20 "hit and giggle" cricket, but there's no denying the popularity of the format. Few fans these days can devote the time to watching a full-test or even one-day match, so Twenty20's 2 1/2-hour format is definitely filling a niche with today's lifestyle.
And judging from the excitement generated by the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, the format is here to stay.
Here are 10 event facts that will make watching the matches hosted in Sri Lanka from September 18 to October 7 even more enjoyable.
T20 Origins: In 2001, the ECB came up with the 20-over format as a replacement for the one-day 50-over game used in B&H Cup matches. The T20 format became a quick success, and, in 2007, South Africa hosted the first ICC World Twenty20.
Twenty20 Rules: The traditional Laws of Cricket apply to T20 with some significant modifications on bowling, fielding, and game time:- Bowlers are limited to four overs and batsmen are granted a run and a free hit if there is a no ball on a popping crease violation.
- Only five fielders can stand on the leg side, and only two fielders can be outside the 30-yard circle during the first six overs after which only five players can be outside the circle.
- If the 20th over is not started within 75 minutes, the batting side is awarded six runs for each additional over.
These additions are what make T20 cricket so exciting.
T20 World Cup Format: Four groups of three teams will play in a preliminary round with points awarded for each match (2 points for win, 1 point for no-result, 0 for loss). The two top teams from each group are placed into a two-group Super Eight round. The top four teams from the Super Eight play a semifinal round, with the winners squaring off in the final to crown the 2012 Twenty20 world champions.
Past T20 World Cup Winners: The inaugural 2007 event was won by India in a closely contested five-run win over perennial rival Pakistan. Pakistan came back to defeat Sri Lanka in the 2009 final. The 2010 contest saw England overcome Australia by seven wickets.
Ultimate Performance Highlight: Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh's "six sixes" in the 19th over off Stuart Broad in 2007 is the tournament's penultimate batting performance. He was also the first player to score 50 runs from just 12 balls.
2012 Competitors: Ireland and Afghanistan earned their invitations through the Twenty20 Qualifier event (Ireland beat Afghanistan). They join the 10 test cricket countries (England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh) to make up the 12-team event competition.
2012 Tournament Favorites: England and South Africa currently lead the ICC T20 ranking. However coming into the matches, all 12 teams competed in a series of warm-up matches. Host Sri Lanka soundly beat West Indies, and favorite India was beaten by Pakistan by five wickets. Oddsmakers put India, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and England at the head of the list to win it all.
Host Countries: Sri Lanka is the first Asian nation to host the T20 World Cup, and matches will be played in three cities: Pallekele, Colombo, and Hambantota. South Africa (2007), England (2009), and West Indies (2010) were previous hosts.
Venues: Few ovals can compare to the venerable Lord's cricket grounds where the 2009 final was held. Sri Lanka will use three grounds: Muttiah Muralitharan International Cricket Stadium (formerly Pallekele Cricket Stadium); Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium, which was constructed for the 2011 Cricket World Cup; and legendary R. Premadasa Stadium, which has been home to over 100 ODIs and will host the final match of the tournament.
Theme Songs: Music is a big part of a T20 World Cup experience, and each tournament has a unique theme song. This year's song is "Vissai Vissa" by Sri Lankan duo Bathiya and Santhush. The title means "Twenty time more." Past songs have included "Conquest of Paradise" by Vangelis and "The Game of Love and Unity" by Rupee.
The author saw his first cricket match at the Woodley Avenue Park in Van Nuys, CA sometime in the 80's, plays an occasional game of Kanga Cricket with friends and admits to be becoming addicted to watching the IPL on television.
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- Sri Lanka
- South Africa