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In the 1990s, cricket promoters were searching for a new format that would shorten match times and make the game more compatible with modern audiences. After extensive consumer research, the England and Wales Cricket Board proposed a game plan in which each team would get one inning limited to 20 overs. The so-called Twenty20 (T20) format would have a maximum game time of about three hours, comparable to other televised sports and short enough to hold the attention span of live spectators.

Cricket Has a Long History in Britain

The first codified set of cricket rules dates back to 1744, but cricket has been part of British culture for much longer than that, probably since the Late Middle Ages. The game grew in popularity during the second half of the 18th century and became more standardised in the 19th century. Throughout the 20th century cricket clubs continued to thrive, so much so that the game is often considered the de facto national sport of England. T20 has made cricket even more popular, both at home and abroad.

Fiyaz Mughal, founder of a UK organisation dedicated to preventing hate crimes, is also passionate about cricket, especially the English national team. Mr Mughal has been an outspoken activist against all types of religious extremism and was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2009 for his work in the voluntary sector. He follows the national and international cricket scene and is a big fan of T20 games.

T20 Caught on Quickly

The first T20 match took place between Hampshire and Sussex in 2003 and it sparked interest almost immediately. Even though T20 wasn’t initially intended to be an international format, a game was organised between Australia and New Zealand in 2005. New Zealand hosted the match in Auckland, but Australia won the game by 44 runs. Two more international T20 matches were scheduled that year, with England beating Australia in June. The format quickly became a crowd favourite and a chance for teams to build prestige.

The International Tournament

The first T20 tournament was held in 2007 and India was declared the winner. Since then, international T20 has been a regular fixture in the cricket world. Teams must be ranked among the top ICC members to compete and, as of 2016, only 18 nations qualified. The ICC World Twenty20 takes place every two years and most international tours include at least one T20 match. The English won the third tournament, held in the West Indies in 2010. The West Indies is the current title holder, as well as the only team to win twice, in both 2012 and 2016. The next tournament is scheduled to take place next year, in 2018.