As the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 tournament gets underway in Pakistan this week, we take a moment to look back at the watershed moment when this abbreviated form of one-day cricket was truly born.
The interwebs and cricket geeks will tell you the first ‘official’ T20 matches were played by English county teams in 2003; hogwash!
One-day cricket was officially bastardised on January 18th, 1989 during a rainy night at the Sydney Cricket Ground in what was supposed to be a 50-over match between Australia and the West Indies in the third final of the Benson & Hedges World Series.
Allan Border’s Australian team batted first and set a target of 228 from 38 overs after a two-hour rain delay interrupted their innings.
In reply, the West Indies stumbled out of the blocks losing the early wickets of Gordon Greenidge and Richie Richardson.
The Windies’ situation appeared dour until Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards imposed his will on the game.
The West Indies’ fearless captain strolled to the crease and immediately summoned the element of thunder to bless his bat, as he promptly launched a pair of devastating sixes to buoy his side at 2/47 before rain interrupted play again.
An 80 minute delay reduced the West Indies target to just 108 runs from 18 overs, giving them a paultry chase of just 61 runs from 68 deliveries with eight wickets to spare.
The decision to transform the deciding game of the summer series into a minuscule over total and run chase completely unravelled the fabric of 50-over one-day cricket.
Richards was already poised for a legendary innings of domination before the heavens intervened, once his mission objective was simplified, his innings would create the blueprint for how the one-day game would be changed in the future.
The Master Blaster made a mockery of the revised target and in essence the decider as he smashed an unbeaten 60 runs off 40 balls in his last first-class appearance in Australia.
Australian supporters were enraged and left bitterly disappointed by the circumstances that led to their team losing their beloved one-day summer series in the style of a simple backyard slogfest.
That nonsensical and anticlimactic finish to the 1988/89 World Series season is a microcosm for all that is askew with Twenty20 cricket.
Shrinking a 50-over game into an 18-over slog-a-thon is essentially what T20 cricket is; a glorified version of batting practice.
And to think they even play rain-shortened, over-reduced T20 matches now, it’s just not one-day cricket.