Business Of Leisure ZAA-106

The Twenty20 Revolution

As sport, recreation and leisure, and tourism and events students you would have to live under a rock to not have heard of the Big Bash. The Big Bash League (BBL) and the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) have exploded onto the Australian summer calendar. The action-packed 20 overs per side matches fill our lounge rooms and stadiums throughout the December and January period.

Battle Of The Bashes | 30 Secs

For those of you who are interested, you can download the BBL and WBBL playing Conditions Here. Or read an abbreviated version here.


Twenty20 cricket is a global phenomenon amassing billions of dollars in revenues throughout the world (e.g. Indian Premier League, T20 Blast in the UK, the Caribbean Premier League, T20 Challenge in South Africa). Twenty20 cricket is not just about the cricket. It’s a spectacle of entertainment featuring flashes of colour, fireworks, dancers, giveaways, ‘free hits’, players sitting in the ‘dugout’ waiting to bat rather sitting in the change rooms, technological innovations (e.g. Spidercam, Zing bails, helmet cameras, FoxKopter), and sixes galore. It has “skyrocketing popularity”.

However, how did it start? Why is it an important feature in the calendar of countries? Why has it had such an impact? This module explores Twenty20 cricket as case study of the business of leisure.

The Twenty20 origin

Twenty20 cricket began in 2001 as the brainchild of Stuart Robertson (then Marketing Manager of the England and Wales Cricket Board). Mr Robertson has said that twenty-over cricket had been played as an after work activity for years before 2001. However, despite opposition from purists of the game of cricket, he took the concept and professionalised it.

The first official Twenty20 match was held in 2003. Freelance cricket photographer Phillip Brown, writing for ESPN Cricinfo, penned this piece on his experience of his first match during that season:

A T20 merry-go-round, and a jelly-bean investigation:

In the above blog post, Mr Brown wrote: “Covering the match for the Daily Telegraph, I thought these peripheral things on this historic evening were more important than a run-of-the-mill action shot from the game”.

Why do you think he might have said this?

What peripheral things was he talking about?

Please read the following article from the UK’s Daily Mail. This 2008 article profiles Mr Robertson and probes him on how it all began and why he did it.

Meet the man who invented Twenty20 cricket - the man missing out on millions.

Reflecting on this article, please write down a brief response to the following questions. These responses will assist you with other activities in this module.

1. What was/were the key driver/drivers behind the creation of Twenty20 cricket?

2. Reading between the lines, why is it an important selling point that the game is shorter than traditional cricket matches?

Innovation In Sport

Mr Robertson was a keynote speaker at Adido Limited’s Let's Do Digital Southern Summit 2015Here

His digital marketing presentation entitled: “Innovation in Sport: Changing the Establishment”, focused on “his unique experience in reinventing a traditional sport to suit modern customers' needs”.

Please watch the presentation below and take particular note of the drivers behind the establishment of Twenty20 cricket. An important driver in his claim is that cricket is part of the leisure industry fighting for the leisure pound.

Lets Do Digital| 17:15 mins

Slides to the presentation can be downloaded from here.

Former Australian cricket coach, John Buchanan, predicted in 2005 that Twenty20 would revolutionise cricket. It has definitely done that.

Twenty20 in India

Next is a TED talk [16:59 mins] by Harsha Bhogle called “The rise of cricket, the rise of India”. Mr Bhogle is an internationally-recognised cricket commentator and columnist, known as “the Voice of Indian Cricket”. This talk was presented at TEDIndia in 2009. It has a specific focus on the premier, and most lucrative, Twenty20 cricket competition globally – the Indian Premier league (IPL). He humourously discusses how a small change to cricket has made a revolution.

Please take particular note of the following:

The mixed economy of cricket – especially commercial investment and television coverage rights.

How India took the Twenty20 idea and become the model of the spectacle that it is now.

The links between Bollywood and the IPL.

Wow! The IPL has had a significant effect on India’s economy, profile, branding and culture. There are many stakeholders involved in the IPL. What are your thoughts on this video? Please take the time to write down responses to the following questions:

Jon Hotten penned an article for ESPN Cricinfo in February 2016 called “The World T20 Created” – This article claims that the IPL is worth US$7bn and that it was worth $170m to India’s GDP. It discusses Chris Gayle’s (one of the most sought after but controversial players in Twenty20 cricket) reaction to taking part in the first IPL auction: “Here was a man who earned, he (Gayle) said, US$1000 for playing an ODI for West Indies, now getting that for around a minute's batting in franchise cricket.”

Please now take the time to reflect on your own Twenty20 experience in light of the Indian context and the questions above. Do you think that Australia is experiencing something similar? If so, why? What might be the differences?

Back to Australia

The Big Bash League began in 2011 as an initiative of Cricket Australia (CA). Prior to this, from 2005 to 2011 it was known as the Twenty20 Big Bash and was played by the six Sheffield Shield cricket playing states of Australia (Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania). In 2011 CA remodelled the competition to more closely resemble the IPL. It adopted a city-based format of six capital cities with Melbourne and Sydney hosting two teams each. The Women’s Big Bash League began in 2015:

The BBL and WBBL have taken Australia by storm with sell out crowds around Australia’s capital cities.

Why do you think this might be?

The Guardian’s Mike Selvey was granted 10 days of exclusive access to the Melbourne Renegades team. He wrote “Inside Twenty20: on the front line of a cricket revolution” where he highlights the impact that the Big Bash has had on cricket in Australia:


The Austadiums website documents attendance rates at major stadiums in Australia. An Analysis of Big Bash attendances (see here): Shows that attendances are growing. As an example, the Gabba (the Brisbane Cricket Ground in Woolloongabba) is the home ground of the Brisbane Heat:

T20 Blast Next Gen Kids | 1:51 mins

Hype Reel | 1:35 mins

Based on the success of the BBL and IPL, England is looking to remodel its Twenty20 program into a city-based program: Read Here and Read Here . It has faced a delay in implementation due to broadcasting rights: Read Here. Twenty20 cricket is big business.

As a final exercise before concluding this module, please read this article written by Dr Tom Heenan of Monash University for The News Daily: Here.

It is entitled “How the Big Bash League took Australia’s sporting landscape by storm”. This is a thought provoking article describing what he thinks has been the successes of the Big Bash League.

His concluding comments make it clear how he sees the positioning of the Big Bash:

“This generational shift will solidify T20’s place as the main form of the game in coming decades. The BBL has been a triumph of slickly targeted, Americanised sports-entertainment marketing. For the rusted-on traditionalists, it may not be cricket. But for cricket’s emerging generation of followers, it will be the only form of the game.”

Once you have read this article please write down your thoughts on four areas (listed below) that Dr Heenan specifically highlighted:

• TV ready

• Anti-gambling stance

• Crowd boom

• Traditional alienation

As a current (or potential) audience member of the Big Bash, please reflect on your experience of these four areas. Then identify how the Big Bash has resonated with you.

For further reading, a special edition of the journal Sport in Society (volume 14, Issue 10) was called “Twenty20 and the Future of Cricket”. These articles can be found via the UTAS Library website.

A final question to ponder… How might another sport take the Twenty20 model to create other innovative sport entertainment opportunity? As a hint, Melbourne hosted its inaugural Nitro Athletics event in February 2017: See Here


Created with images by PDPics - "cricket batsman shot" • Hash Milhan - "smashed me to the boundry" • RaeAllen - "IMGP0719 - muralitharan" • WerbeFabrik - "lamps spotlight light" • jstarj - "cricket stumps bails" • shents - "cricket bowling cricketer"

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