The hills were alive with the sound of Twenty/20 cricket.

FTGDCA v SL Invitation XI TSUNAMI RELIEF APPEAL CRICKET MATCH – ( SNNI – MELBOURNE)

The hills were alive with the sound of Twenty/20 cricket. To be precise it was 24/24 over game (12/2 innings) between Ferntree Gully District Cricket Association X1 and a Sri Lanka Invitation X1. The day and night game was played in aid of the Sri Lanka Relief; with all proceed donated to “Unconditional Compassion Trust.” Before I go any further I must thank, organisers Steve Brown and Sharon Connolly who invited me to umpire the game.

The game was played at Kings Park reserve in Upper Ferntree Gully situated in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria. The hills at the foot of the Dandenong Ranges reminds me always of Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and other place in the hill country of Ceylon now called Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan team was captained by the 1996 world cup champion player Asanka Gurusinghe. Guru was hoping to win the toss, (which he did) and elected to bat. From the opening ball the big hits started, with the crowd fascinated and thrilled by the boundaries and sixes, the big hitting continued when the boys from Ferntree Gully came into bat, and they had the home crowd supporting them very vocally. The support the game received from a crowd of 1200 the biggest seen
at a cricket match indicated the 20/20 game was a winner.

Today we are thrilled by the Twenty/20 game. In the past listening to cricket commentaries was the go, the scoring was so slow, it made us kids fall a sleep. On the other hand I remember the excitement in the crowd when cricketers like Kanhai, Sobers, Dexter, Kapil Dev, Hadlee, Davidson, Walters, Botham, Imran Khan and our own C.I. Gunasekera batted. They scored the sixes and we loved to watch.
We even invented the word ‘Kanhai Shot’ in our normal vocabulary for anything big. Test cricket was good for the grace and elegance of stroke playing, but the matches were long and boring.

We saw the introduction of Pyjama cricket or one day’s introduced to the world. There were bigger crowds at a one day game than sometimes at a test match. People enjoyed the big hits compared to a test match. The one day game got better when Sri Lanka displayed to the world how to score hard from the first over due to field restrictions.
But hitting big from the first ball can be disadvantage especially when wickets keep falling and teams cannot bat the allocated 50 overs. The YCW cricket Association in Melbourne which I also umpire has a one day competition with 40 over per side, some teams play it well, but most teams wait until 20 overs have been completed before lashing out, some do not bat the full 40 over.

Coming back to the Tsunami match, the 12 overs each team batted made a great impact on the crowd. There was no break between innings; therefore the crowd was constantly alert and alive. There were 16 sixes and 27 fours. The crowd loved it with some attempting to catch the sixes, which came into the crowd. The disadvantage is the ball
hitting a spectator, there was an occasion when the ball hit a pram, but no injuries or complaints. This was cricket at its highest. We have moved into a faster life style and there is only limited time for recreational and sporting activities. People cannot spare a whole day on the field and worse to be a spectator at a match.
From an umpire’s point of view (I have watched some boring cricket) and a sportsman’s point of (the legs and body takes its toll), we parents can only do limited things in a 24 hour period.

Twenty/20 cricket is here to stay; I can see the bowlers having a limited run up and who knows; the future might introduce a shorter game with more teams participating on the day. Today in the hills at Ferntree Gully Twenty/20 cricket was given the thumbs up by the biggest crowd at a match. Cricket and Charity were the big winners on the night.

By – Chrys Abraham Accredited Umpire – Victoria Australia