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Too late to stop T20?

I am sure some of you would have heard my colleague Xolani Gwala's debate or read Dr Ali bacher's comments directly warning SA cricket administrators that we should not go overboard with T20 cricket.

I get his concern but my contention is we are past the point of concern…

That time for concern should have come before live four-day cricket was taken off TV and before that revenue went to the major T20 tournaments on domestic soil. And before the development of the IPL. And before the development of the T20 Champions league.

It's too late now.

You only need to look at the stadiums for our four-day Sunfoil competitions. The games are moving to smaller venues around the country. You are lucky if you see 100 people a day.

In fact, if a man and his dog go to watch those games you can actually hear the dog being spoken to by his master. That's how empty the stadiums are for the longer format game.

What T20 has also done is brought new fans into the stadiums. It's difficult to fight that tsunami if we compare it to what the longer format, with the exception of the crowds an A-grade test series brings in at the turnstile.

Are we playing too much T20 cricket? We have gone long past that point. Long past that point…

These days the consummate T20 professionals can ply their hit and giggle cricket trade in various countries around the world and command good incomes. Where is Herschelle Gibbs? Where is Johan Botha? Well, if not in SA, they are in Australia playing in their domestic competition and when they are not running out for an IPL side, the likes of Gibbs can be found sipping cocktails in between 20-over matches in the Carribean.

Will it lead to the men with talent for the shorter format, who find themselves on the fringe of the national team, opting to become T20 journey men? Will that ultimately have a negative impact on the ODI or T20 fortunes of their home countries? These are points to ponder.

Have there been any good influences from T20 on five-day cricket? Well, I like the fact that sides will set their sights these days on batting at 4.5 runs per over in a test match. It's exciting and I think a darn sight special when a batsman can apply himself to difficult conditions against the swinging bouncing red ball and still score a run a ball century.

But the downside, I think, comes in when an entire generation of cricketers learn to play T20 cricket too early in their careers. Why must boys at high school play T20? Build your fundamentals with the 36-over cricket and then move onto the two-day matches. They should learn how to graft in the middle.

And once you've developed the basics and you are good enough to play in a representative side, at that point you can learn to apply yourself and your technique, which is grounded in solid, proper stroke making in any case, to go and play T20 cricket. If it were up to me, school under 19 sides would not play T20 cricket.

However, I don't think it is the evil it is made out to be because most good sides internationally are developing different squads for different formats.

I think the evil comes in when T20 is the be all and end all at all ages and school going players & fans stay away from the game.

These are just my thoughts. What are yours?

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