T20 World Cup uses cricket's fast and furious format. The tempo appeals to new and existing fans

The first cricket World Cup to be hosted on U.S. soil starts June 1 and will be shared with countries in the Caribbean, represented by the two-time champion West Indies.

Fear not. It won't drag on.

This World Cup is in the Twenty20 format, the fastest and most action-packed version of cricket.

Unlike test cricket matches, which started out as timeless before being shortened to five days, T20 doesn’t require any breaks for tea or lunch and is completed in just over three hours — roughly the same as a Major League Baseball game.

Players wear colorful uniforms, unlike the all-white kits in test cricket, and venues have a party vibe.

The 20 competing teams have been divided into four groups in the league stage, which starts with the U.S. against Canada in Dallas. The top two teams in each group advance to the knockout rounds.

The final is set for Bridgetown, Barbados on June 29.


T20 was first played at franchise level in England in 2003. That makes it a baby in terms of cricket history, which has been played in one form or another for at least 400 years.

Within four years, T20 had its own World Cup and it has spawned far-flung leagues in traditional and new cricket markets. The most lucrative franchise cricket competition by far is the Indian Premier League.

Major League Cricket, which attracts players from around the world, made its debut in the U.S. last year. Season 2 will launch July 4.


The two important factors with the T20 format: It hurries the game up, meaning, generally, much more excitement. The game is also shortened time-wise and is easier to consume for young or new fans or — and this is key — TV programming.

While the format leads to high-tempo action on the field, T20 has also sparked an evolution in off-field entertainment in cricket. Cheerleaders dancing on podiums, DJs sitting behind decks spinning tunes and fancy dress themes are all part of the T20 game for crowds, bringing a colorful new twist for those at the stadium and broadcast viewers.


Cricket’s main rules still apply in T20 games, meaning there might still be a steep learning curve for new fans unfamiliar with the “leg before wicket” law — or “lbw” for short — when a batter is called out for using his protective leg pads to block a delivery from hitting the stumps.

At least there will be no ties. Test cricket has two ways for a game to have no winner, even if it’s been going on for five days.

But in T20, even if the teams get exactly the same number of runs — 150 runs is an average score and more than 200 is a good score — then there is a super over to decide the game. That means each team faces one over of six balls to smash as many runs as it can and whoever wins that tiebreaker wins the game.


The two teams of 11 players will have one innings — not inning — each at the World Cup. The captains toss a coin and the winner decides whether his team will bat or bowl first. The toss can be very important depending on things like the state of the field and the weather. There are a maximum 10 wickets in each innings before the team is all out and the other side bats. Only two players are on the field batting at one time, whereas all 11 of the team bowling are on the field. Each team gets to bat for 20 overs (an over is a series of six deliveries from the same bowler) which translates to 120 deliveries. Hence the name Twenty20. The leather ball is white and similar in appearance to a baseball. Bowlers — think pitchers — run to the crease and use a rotating arm action to bowl the ball and try to knock the bails off three 28-inch stumps from the opposite end of the 22-yard pitch. The bowlers can deliver the ball very fast (pace bowlers) or try to get lots of spin from the ball when it hits the ground (spin bowler). Batters try to protect the stumps while scoring runs as quickly as possible by hitting the ball over or between opponents out in the field. In the T20 format, they regularly hit the ball out of the ground, not unlike a home run.


A scoreboard showing 200-4 means the batting team has scored 200 runs and lost four wickets — four people have been dismissed out of a maximum 10. The higher the first number in a score like 200-4 (50 is bad, 250 is extremely good) and the lower the second means the batting team is doing well. Batters scamper between the two wickets to score a run every time they cross. That's unless they hit the ball into, or over, the foam cushion around the edge of the field. If the ball hits the boundary cushion having already bounced, that is worth four runs ("a four"). If the ball clears it without bouncing, it's six runs (“a six”).


Unlike the traditional Cricket World Cup, which was first contested in 1975, has been played mostly in the the 50-over format, and has been dominated by six-time champion Australia, success in the global T20 tournament has been more evenly shared.

Only the West Indies, representing the Caribbean nations, and England have won it twice. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia have one title each.


Virat Kohli, India: A feisty and formidable batter who has set records in the Indian Premier League and over a long career with the national team. There's an array of high-profile stars in the India squad but none has a bigger following than the 35-year-old former captain.

Rashid Khan, Afghanistan: The 25-year-old spin bowler has been the top-ranked T20 bowler in international cricket and is still very much in the top 10. He's a star in the IPL and for the Afghan national team.

Jofra Archer, England: If he's fit, he's super fast. The Barbados-born pace bowler hasn't played a lot of cricket in the last few years because of injury but has been rushed back into the squad for the defending champion because of his intimidating bowling and experience in Caribbean conditions.

Mitch Marsh, Australia: A big, burly “allrounder” — meaning he bats and bowls — Marsh can get an innings away to a blazing start and also bowl with pace. He has been recovering from a hamstring problem which curtailed his IPL season and isn't likely to bowl at the start of the World Cup but will play as captain regardless. He was the player of the final when Australia clinched its first T20 world title in 2021.


AP writer Gerald Imray in South Africa contributed.


AP cricket:

John Pye, The Associated Press