Twenty20 outshinning ODI's and Test, in popularity and in business

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Sydney, Sep 19 (UNI) Twenty20 cricket, which was introduced to make the game more lively and attractive, is not only successful in its objectives but is beating other forms of cricket in popularity proven by the ticket sales.

The one off Twenty20 game between India and Australia to be played next year at MCG on February one is expected to draw a bigger crowd than the day one of the Boxing Day Test.

The fact that the fans have embraced this slam bang version so dearly, was confirmed by Cricket Victoria marketing general manager Jason Bakker.

''It may well be the biggest day of cricket for the summer,'' Bakker said while giving the figures for ticket sales for the match which could attract more than 80,000 spectators to the ground.

''We wouldn't want any change out of 80,000-plus people. We've budgeted conservatively and you don't know what the weather is going to do, but, all things being equal, we think that on a Friday night in Melbourne and with the Victorian passion for all things sporting and this being the first Twenty20 at the MCG, then we are expecting a massive crowd,'' Bakker was quoted as saying by 'The Australian'.

Western Australian Cricket Association reported yesterday that ticket sales for its Twenty20 match between Sri Lanka and Australia in December is out-performing the one-day matches.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland attributed this rise in popularity to the inaugural World Cup going on in South Africa.

Sutherland said, ''Cricket fans in Australia and around the world, including a significant number of fans who are new to cricket, continue to vote with their feet when it comes to Twenty20 cricket.'' Cricket Australia said yesterday, that the excitement created by Twenty20 World Cup was expected to generate more interest in this nascent version of the game.

''We've been really excited about the prospect of Australia hosting the first international Twenty20 against India for some time,'' a spokesman said.

''The crowds we're seeing in South Africa lead us to believe that the Australia-India match at the MCG will potentially break the record for attendances at an international Twenty20 match.'' Bakker said that, while one-day international crowds had fallen off in recent years, they had picked up in last summer's Ashes tour and he expected them to average up to 60,000 at the MCG this summer.

However, everyone is not excited about the new version, as the critics warned that Twenty20 must not be allowed to distract states from ODI and four-day cricket.

Bakker also acknowleged the fact. ''You are looking not to cannibalise one-day international cricket, but we'll have to wait and see,'' he said.

''There's obviously a lot of change at the moment and managing change is always a difficult process, but so far this has been well managed,'' he added.

Sutherland said that he expects a flow-on from the World Cup to the domestic competitions.

''We've expanded the Twenty20 Big Bash by an extra round this summer, meaning states will play five matches -- each one against each state.'' UNI XC BJR DS1305

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