Talking T20 cricket
Journalist Tim Wigmore on writing Cricket 2.0: Inside the T20 Revolution with co-author Freddie Wilde, analysing the format and interviewing the greats of the game
I’m interested to know what both of you thought about T20 cricket when you first heard of it. How open were you to the format?
I think we were both open to it, probably largely because as children when it was created - I was 12 — we were the target audience. I already loved the other formats but I remember watching some early games, and going to one in the first season, and thinking it felt like something new and different — and that it could be enjoyed alongside the other formats.
You’ve mentioned why you decided to work together on this. When did the idea for Cricket 2.0 come about, and did it emerge in a single instance or through multiple discussions with each other?
The idea for the book emerged organically — we had discussed lots of ideas about T20 for years and certainly wanted to read something digging deep into the format. And because this didn't really exist, we decided to try and write it ourselves.
How long did you take to work on the book?
I first suggested the concept to Freddie early in 2017. We then spent the next year or so with the idea on the backburner, only having done a few chapters, before then taking about another year to finish it off after we got a UK publishing contract in 2018.
Were you also consciously thinking about who you were writing for?
We have consciously tried to make the target audience as big as possible. One thing I really like when I read sports books is to be written as inclusively as possible — so we have consciously explained concepts in cricket to make sure this can be accessible both to cricket nuts and also those who have less in-depth knowledge of the game, perhaps follow the IPL a little and want to get an understanding of how this phenomenon has come about. This is a book written to be enjoyed both by ardent cricket fans and those with a less thorough knowledge of the sport.
You’ve interviewed over 80 people in the process of writing this. Is there a particular one that you cherish, and why?
There were so many it would be hard to pick one. It was brilliant talking to Test legends like Rahul Dravid and Ricky Ponting about T20 and the different challenges of approaching it – I remember Ponting saying that strategy is even more important in T20 than Tests, which is an amazing thing for such a remarkable Test cricketer to say, and shows how much thinking there is in T20, which has largely been hidden from view until now. And the more human stories were also interesting - players like Rashid Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane and Kieron Pollard explaining how T20 transformed their lives. Those would probably be my five favourites.
What discoveries did you make along the way, and did the writing process entail any unlearning?
Interesting question! The level of strategising and planning – both for the IPL auction and matches themselves — was fascinating, and some of the secrets of the IPL auction — like teams bidding for players they don't really want to drive up the prices so other teams have less cash. We had to unlearn the idea that batting is more important than bowling in T20. The more we looked at it the more it became clear that you absolutely need five strong bowlers to be a good T20 team. This is probably the biggest difference between CSK and RCB in the IPL — CSK have recognised the essential importance of bowling, while RCB have been more focused on batting all-stars. And as we know, that hasn't worked.
Are you hopeful of seeing a book dedicated to women’s T20 cricket in the near future?
Yes, absolutely. It would be great and after the T20 World Cup, there would be no better time than now.
What do you hope is the takeaway for Indian readers?
I would say gaining a better appreciation of T20, and even changing the way that readers watch IPL matches. We hope our book provides answers and a deeper understanding of T20, which can add to the enjoyment of watching games. Until now, much of the most interesting aspects of T20 have been hidden from the public. We hope our book helps change that.
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