Angus Fraser: A fresh, exciting slogathon that deserves to be taken for what it is - a bit of fun

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The Independent Online

Anyone with an interest in the future of cricket will hope that Twenty20 cricket proves to be a success. The game is not alone in having to compete hard for its place in the market but this fresh and potentially exciting concept could provide the ECB with what they are looking for, a fan base that is young and family-oriented rather than middle-aged, middle-class and male.

The ECB will have been pleased that this, to a large extent, was the case at yesterday's inaugural match at the Rose Bowl in Southampton. But, for those of us who know what they look like, it was clear a high proportion of the near full-house crowd that turned up to watch the Hampshire Hawks take on the Sussex Sharks, were already those the game has won over.

Essentially, this was not a new audience but an old one inquisitive to find out what all the fuss was about. The encouraging thing was that this time the regulars came with their children or grandchildren rather than on their own.

Attracting a new generation of fans and players to the game is what cricket desperately needs to do. Not just to help it with its finances but also to increase the number of people playing the game. If this were to happen it would improve the chances of England producing two or three more Michael Vaughans years down the line. It would also allow counties to continue paying players a decent wage.

To lure youngsters to these matches the events need to be seen as fun and the venue as the place to be seen. This is something cricket grounds, until now, have not been able to do. Like tennis, cricket has an image of being stuffy and exclusive, and a hope of the ECB will be that Twenty20 helps to break down some of these boundaries.

With teen-bands such as Mis-Teeq, D-Side and United Colours of Sound putting on a concert at the end of the game, it is debatable that cricketers were the main attraction.

Cricket is fortunate: the game can be adapted without losing everything it stands for. This will not prevent many cricket lovers being horrified by some of the gimmickry but they were the same people who would have been appalled when limited-over cricket was played for the first time in England 40 years ago.

No matter what length the game is, the skills required to succeed do not change a great deal. During the World Cup in South Africa this year, the best Test cricketers stood out, and over the next 12 days the stars are sure to be those who perform regularly in county cricket.

James Kirtley, who played for Sussex yesterday before joining England's one-day squad, was, predictably, the pick of his side's bowlers. The rest of Sussex's attack was flogged around England's newest cricket ground, much to the amusement of the crowd.

Working out what a decent score is will be a challenge for the side batting first, and in an effort to post one there will be as many disappointingly one-sided matches as grandstand finishes.

A par score is likely to be between 140 and 160, and games where this happens should keep the crowds entertained to the end. In pursuit of such totals, teams will inevitably fall short many time, so the game to be dead within five overs of the second innings.

With batsman having to be in the middle within 90 seconds of a wicket falling, the fielding side needing to bowl their 20 overs within 75 minutes of play and the batsmen trying to whack the bowlers everywhere, everything is frantic. Yes, there was the odd good shot but it was the quantity of runs that was important, not the quality of the stroke.

The cricket should should be taken for what it is, a bit of fun.