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CA was against Twenty20: Lillee

The Aussie great, who has been hired by the GMR Group as a bowling consultant for the Delhi Daredevils team, said that the Australian Cricket Board was against the very concept of Twenty20 format, before they realised the financial aspect of it.

New Delhi: Years of bowling burden has taken its toll on his back, but Dennis Lillee’s aggression still seems a throwback from his heydays.

The Aussie great, who has been hired by the GMR Group as a bowling consultant for the Delhi Daredevils team, said on Wednesday that the Australian cricket board was against the very concept of Twenty20 format, before they realised the financial aspect of it.

"Cricket Australia was against Twenty20 matches right from the start. Even though England had introduced the concept quite successfully and South Africa were having their Pro20 series, the board was against it.

"When I was the president of Western Australian Cricket Association, we organised the first ever Twenty20 tournament between Victoria and Western Australia... 25,000 people turned up and we had a seating for just 19,000. It was then the board realised that this format could be marketed as well," said Lillee who is also the director of MRF Pace Foundation.

Soon to be 60, Lillee defined Twenty20 as the evolution of the game. "Just like World series, Bodyline and the chucking controversy of the 1960s changed the game, the slam-bang version will also pave way for more changes. Every game changes with time and according to the scenario.

"There was Test cricket and then ODIs was introduced and now Twenty20. Test cricket is the ultimate version, but Twenty20 is cricket’s evolution. We may not have ODIs in future at all," he said.

Lillee added that the Twenty20 format was very marketable and could be the medium through which the game can be introduced in non-playing countries.

"Tests and ODIs are too long. For the game to spread in non-playing countries, Twenty20 is the way since its short and gets over in three hours. "It’s timeframe is quite similar to other sports like hockey and football and that’s what interests the public nowadays. It’s the only way we can compete with football," he said.

A tearaway speedster at his time, Lillee felt the spin bowlers would be more successful in the Indian Premier League because of their ability to bowl defensively.

"Despite common perception it’s the spinners that will be more successful, because they can bowl at a defensive line and length and tie the batsmen down. That is why Delhi’s main spinner Daniel Vettori will be the key to our success in the tournament."

Lillee chose to sidestep the ‘country vs club’ debate, but hinted that players nowadays were well looked after.

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