With Sussex kicking off their latest Twenty20 campaign on Friday June 28th v Surrey it’s hard to believe that this exciting form of the game is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
Sussex were involved in the first ever Twenty20 game in June 2003 when they took on Hampshire Hawks at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. Anyone remember it?
Cricket bosses at the ECB devised the concept of a fast-paced game aimed at a totally different audience than those who usually attended the more traditional form of the game.
They wanted to get away from the idea that cricket was a game that only seemed to appeal to white males aged over-50! Do you think they’ve succeeded?
The competition was heavily marketed and in the first season counties were given extra money to put on attractions at games to appeal to families as well as cricket lovers. At the first game, girl band Misteeq [remember them?] played a concert afterwards and there were funfairs and rides. Other counties installed hot tubs [!] and ran competitions including one at Leicestershire where the winners watched the game from a sofa on the boundary and ate pizza delivered during the game on a motorbike!
But within a couple of years clubs dropped the sideshows because the cricket was proving to be enough entertainment on its own. The first game at Hampshire attracted a crowd of 8,000 – three times more than their average for a home one-day match. At Hove 6,000 full houses quickly became a regular occurrence at the County Ground.
Sussex didn’t qualify for the knockout stages for the first time until 2007 but two years later they won the tournament at Edgbaston.