Australia introduces Twenty20 at junior level

June 20th, 2008 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 20 (IANS) At a time when a debate is on in India whether players at the junior level should be exposed to the shorter formats of cricket in the wake of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Australia has taken the first step to nurture cricket’s new baby in their cradle. The game’s junior officials here are quick to catch on to the potential of Twenty20, with the success of the IPL and monumental sums of money now on offer for “hit-and-giggle” cricket prompting action at teenage level.

Cricket New South Wales’s (NSW) high-performance unit will stage a junior Twenty20 tournament next month. The inaugural competition, for under-15s, is limited to northern NSW, but next year it is envisioned a state championship could be held. It shouldn’t be long before juniors across the country compete in national Twenty20 tournaments.

“The international landscape is changing, the product is changing and the opportunities are becoming more diverse,” said Alan Campbell, Cricket NSW’s high-performance manager was quoted as saying in The Australian.

Campbell said the need of world cricket has changed with IPL and other Twenty20 tournaments and they would look to cater the franchises looking for T20 specialists.

“We will be developing players for NSW and Australia, but the world market (through Twenty20 franchise clubs) is going to provide more opportunities to players. We are preparing players to play at international level, but we would be negligent if we weren’t catering to their needs. We are trying to lead the world market, not follow it.”

The level of interest in the shorter format of the game has grown here thanks largely to the huge sums being pumped into franchise tournaments by wealthy businessmen.

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