Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Richardson: Time is now to set T20 format


Twenty20 cricket is fast becoming the preferred shorter version of the game and I believe will supersede 50-over cricket.

As T20 becomes more meaningful, so too does the ICC World T20.

I'm no fan of the tournament's format: It feels too instant and exposed to the rather flukey nature of T20.

This tournament really begins at the super eights stage and if you lose your first game there, you are immediately fighting for your life or relying on results beyond your control.

The group stage is not particularly meaningful and I don't think teams are too concerned how they're seeded in the super eights.

To be fair, the group stage is a bit more than practice because if a minnow topples you, you could effectively be gone after one game.

In T20, a minnow could cause an upset but if they go through ahead of one of the top eight, they will not seriously threaten to make the semis and will turn their group of four into something less than super.

This is the one form of cricket I feel lends itself to an eight-team round robin. With the shape world cricket is in, a competition where the top eight play each other once and the top two progress to a final is the most meaningful.

It removes the element of luck and reduces the impact of the one-off performance until the final.

Because of the brevity of T20, this can be achieved without dragging out the competition. Three televised games a day is not overkill and while I agree the volume of cricket in a year is taxing for players, a single T20 fixture is not. Surely for the sake of a meaningful T20 world championship, they could pack a lot of cricket into a short period of time.

Yes, it is important for the ICC to encourage emerging nations and grow the game but ruining marquee tournaments to accommodate minnows, as they have done with the 50-over World Cup, is not the way.

The minnows should be given pathways to inclusion in the big events but not as it's currently done.

If T20 cricket is to surpass one-dayers in importance, then I urge the ICC to learn from its mistakes at the last two World Cups. The game is no longer a slap-happy slog fest so don't undersell its importance with a slap-happy tournament.

As for last night's game, I hope for their sake the Black Caps won because all too often they have underperformed in must-win outings and their performances leading up to meeting the under-performing English were better than the points table reflected.

- Herald on Sunday

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Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Hunter Richardson represented New Zealand in 38 Tests from 2000-2004 racking up an impressive 2,776 runs with an average of 44.7. The former Black Cap began his cricketing career as a left-arm spinner but soon realised that his talents lay with the bat. The transition from ball to bat was seamless and Richardson soon made his international debut against Zimbabwe at the age of 29. Known as a stalwart opener, Richardson’s intelligent style of hard-grind batting came at the perfect time for New Zealand cricket and provided much-needed stability for the Black Caps. Apart from being an excellent opening batsman, Mark Richardson was well-known among fans and team mates for his humorous off-pitch antics and friendly interactions with the famous Beige Brigade, with whom he formed a strong relationship. An excellent cricketer with a personable quality, Richardson once remarked that his retiring first-class average was only different to that of Sir Donald Bradman by a decimal point. Mark Richardson retired from all forms of the game in 2004 and continues to write an insightful, thought-provoking column for the New Zealand Herald.

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