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Can T10 take cricket to the Olympics?

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T10_Cricket_OlympicsThe purists detest it. Even a number of regular cricket fans were seen belittling it with great passion this year. Despite this, it seems like the T10 format has made its case. After the recent success of the second season of the T10 League in the UAE, the 10-over-a-side game is no longer a format one can dismiss offhand. It certainly is garnering its fans, and with so many international cricketers putting their weight behind it ardently it appears as if T10 cricket is here to stay.

What’s more: the T10 format is being seen as cricket’s gateway into the Olympics. Former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi, who featured in his second season of the T10 League with the Pakhtoons, certainly believes so.

 

"I think this is the best cricket you can introduce in the Olympic Games," Afridi had said in an interview recently. "I think you can take the game there and show the world what cricket is all about. I think this is the perfect format to introduce cricket and we are all enjoying it, which is the main thing."

 

Apart from Afridi, reputed players like Eoin Morgan and Virender Sehwag have also expressed their approval of the format and feel that it is the future of international cricket, with the latter saying, “I strongly believe that T10 is the future. If the International Cricket Council (ICC) is planning to take cricket to the Olympics this is the right format as each match finishes in 90 minutes.”

So can T10 cricket actually be the future of the game? Can it take cricket to the next level? And with the T20 format already thriving, how will T10 make an identity of its own?

T10 cricket – the future?

The T10 format was marketed as fast and fun cricket for fans when it was launched last year. The T10 League provided fans with exactly what was promised – quick, relentless and thrilling action. While the format is still in its nascent stages, it clearly has potential. T10 is especially perfect for the modern generation who do not have the patience to watch something for long hours.

While cricket has been played for more than a century now, it hasn’t been picked up by countries all over the world actively. Barring the Test nations, cricket hasn’t managed to extend its reach as much as it would have liked. For that to happen, new fans would have to be pulled towards the game. While T20 cricket has tried and succeeded marginally in that endeavor, the T10 format has the ability to seriously push the game in that direction.

 

England's limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan finds the T10 format to be brilliant and feels it’s probably the closest cricket will get to baseball. "It exposes a different aspect of cricket. It also attracts a different fan as well in the sense that you'd probably find a lot of people there who wouldn't go to a normal cricket match. It's so easy to understand because it's arguably as simplified a cricket match as there possibly could be. I'm a huge fan,” Morgan said at the T10 League.

 

While we may find several faults with it, we cannot deny that T10 cricket is the least complicated of all forms of cricket out there presently. It is frantic and has relentless action. The simplicity of it will really amplify its appeal with children, who can be the sport’s biggest audience. To explain a game of T10 to a kid will be easy. As it lasts hardly two hours, it will keep them hooked throughout.

Yes, the T20 game is also short. But the ICC would find it hard to pitch it for the Olympics as one 20-over game lasts close to four hours. The T10 format, on the other hand, can be wrapped up inside a couple of hours, is freakishly fast and entertaining with no scope of boredom – a dot ball by the bowler here is cheered as if he has taken a wicket. And most importantly, an eight-to-ten-team T10 tournament can be easily finished within 10 days. This will definitely interest the Olympic committee, who ideally want a sport which is short and sharp and entertains the public. T10 ticks all the boxes.

If it is accepted in the Olympics in the coming days, the T10 format can really draw attention from millions of global viewers who are new to cricket and thus grow the game considerably in this manner.

Proceeding with caution

When T20 cricket was making its way into the mainstream in the last decade, it was unabashedly disparaged. And yet, it has survived and turned into a thriving format that appeals to countless fans. Now with T10 cricket coming in, this could lead to more congestion and confusion in an already crowded cricket calendar. While T20 cricket was considered tough on the bowlers, the 10-over game will undeniably be even harsher on them and is likely to cater only to the boundary-hungry fans.

Hence, while T10 cricket does have its advantages, it cannot be allowed to overwhelm all the other remaining formats; especially ODI cricket, which is already struggling to keep its identity alive. If T10 cricket has to be pushed for the next step it has to be done right. Because it certainly has potential to interest a new generation of fans and brings in a new dawn of cricket.

Lovers of Test cricket will undoubtedly see the T10 format as a further threat to the game. And some of their concerns, especially how this format can be positively cruel for the bowlers, are legitimate. However, one can mock it and call it a circus as much as they want, but T10 cricket’s appeal and benefits cannot be ignored. For the good of the game it must be promoted, albeit with prudence and while balancing the other formats smartly.

We won’t know how good or bad T10 cricket can be for the game unless we give it a chance. And going by the glimpses of what we have seen of it thus far, along with the approval of star cricketers, it certainly deserves that chance.

Let’s make one thing clear - cricket cannot exist only to cater to the purists. A growing game that can spread itself all over the world is the only way this sport can flourish. And if T10 cricket can accomplish that then so be it.



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