New Zealand v Australia - ICC Men's T20 World Cup Final 2021
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 14: Aaron Finch of Australia lifts the ICC World T20 Trophy with teammates after the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final match between New Zealand and Australia at Dubai International Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
New Zealand v Australia - ICC Men's T20 World Cup Final 2021

The 20-over form of the game was a thrilling experiment but perhaps it should be left at that.

Just 6,305 fans ventured to the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday night, as the Australian T20 cricket team took on Sri Lanka in the second game of a five-match series.

After a highly competitive first game that saw the Australians win; flexing their muscles with the ball after stumbling with the bat, one might have expected that a pleasant Sunday evening would draw an excellent attendance.

Instead, and despite the likelihood of another close affair, the ground resembled a ghost town, with empty seats dominating the landscape.

Throughout much of T20 cricket’s history, such a sight has been rare and unimaginable.

Yet just as 50-over cricket entered a ponderous malaise in the 1990s with fans becoming increasingly bored with the formulaic nature of the format, so too has the newest and shortest version of the game.

In spite of Sunday night’s rather quiet and understated atmosphere, the cricket played was thrilling, with a super-over required to decide the match. The Australian win established a two games to nil lead in the series, as the teams now head to Canberra for Game 3.

However, the embarrassingly small number of people prepared to invest their hard-earned in the hope of seeing such a frantic and gripping finish is telling. It is also symbolic of the simple fact that fans of T20 are becoming increasingly bored and/or uninspired by the cricket they are witnessing in the format.

Whilst potentially still viable as a cash cow for a small number of domestic tournaments around the world, the general reality for the T20 format appears that it has become something of a victim of its own excesses. The format rose in popularity off the back of more; more sixes, more entertainment and more excitement.

Yet such a plan has proven to be exactly what many predicted, a short-visioned concept too reliant on financial benefits heading the way of organisers/governing bodies and one that degrades the more subtle and refined skills on show in Test cricket.

As exemplified by Australia’s domestic Big Bash league, more has now become bore. A dramatic and steady decline in attendance prior to the COVID-19 pandemic saw Big Bash numbers drop 39% across the 2016/17 - 2019/20 period.

Things looked no better as people began to return to stadiums this season and the lack of interest in Australia’s World T20 Championship winning team during the current series perhaps confirms the sobering trend.

No doubt, the next Indian Premier League stands to be another exciting affair, with vast sums again splashed out for some of the best cricketers in the world over the last few days. Yet perhaps that is where T20 cricket should begin and end.

Efforts to extend its popularity right around the world have done little more than define overkill, create pointless fixtures and produce sixes sailing over pickets that are greeted by nothing more than mild applause.

It was fun while it lasted, but aside from a few lined pockets, the game of cricket has not benefited from the T20 experiment. It now appears that that was all it ever was.