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 Twenty20 Will Net New Generation - ICC Chief

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PostSubject: Twenty20 Will Net New Generation - ICC Chief   Wed Aug 01, 2007 7:45 pm

New International Cricket Council supremo Ray Mali hailed Twenty20 as the game of the future on Thursday at the official launch for September's inaugural world championships in South Africa.

With dwindling crowd numbers for both Test match and One-Day Internationals, the ICC is placing huge stock on the first ever championships for a shorter version of the game that Mali said would capture everyone's imagination.

"Without any doubt this is a great concept, it is a game of the future," Mali said at a glitzy launch party in Johannesburg.

"Within the next five to 10 years, every South African will be playing this kind of game," added Mali who has recently succeeded the late Percy Sonn.

Dancers and a laser show at the launch provided a taste of the high-octane atmosphere that can be expected in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town when the three cities play host to the 12 teams playing in the tournament.

Mali said he was looking forward to the event with a mixture of pride and excitement, knowing South Africa -- one of the pioneers of the game -- would do a great job of showcasing the game in the best possible light.

"And excitement because the event marks a first for cricket -- the first time this format of the game will have been played on a truly global scale."

South African skipper Graeme Smith said Twenty20 was a hit with players who had managed to rack up previously unimaginable scores.

"Twenty20 cricket has helped the game move with modern times, its broken moulds -- even in terms of our own thinking, and targets that seemed impossible are now possible," said Smith whose big-hitting style is perfectly suited to the game.

"I think I have lost more patience since I've started playing Twenty20," he admitted.

Dave Richardson, the ICC's cricket manager, insisted that the tournament would not diminish the longer versions of the game.

"I think this format is going to show the public exactly how good these guys are," he said.

"You have the freedom to play like you have never played before." The 13 day, 27 match event, is billed as one of the most exciting developments in cricket in 30 years.

"It will bring many of the best international players from around the world together for a short, sharp event we believe will capture the public's imagination both in South Africa and around the world," said ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed.

Having learnt from the poor turnout at the World Cup in the West Indies in March, tournament director Steve Elworthy said ticket prices had been kept as cheap as possible, ranging from R20 (2.84 dollars)for a place on the grass in the round robin stages, to R160 (22.8 dollars)for a spot on the grandstand in the final.

He said very few tickets were still available for some matches, and most had been bought out by South African supporters.

Thousands of hard hats, which have become necessary due to the big shots flying around stadiums in Twenty20 matches, will be given away free to spectators.

The winning team of the tournament, which kicks of on September 11 with a match between South Africa and the West Indies, would go home with 1.9 million US dollars.

According to Cricket South Africa's acting president Norman Arendse, there were long term benefits for South Africa in hosting the competition, such as attracting more young black players to the game.
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