BRING on Big Bash cricket.
The colour, the hype, the pumping music, mascots, blazing flames lighting up the boundary for a six – this is about entertainment.
Not to mention the on-field spectacle.
Melbourne Renegades have assured us that they will unleash everything in their arsenal for practice at Eastern Oval tomorrow.
The promise should be enough to lure the intrigued to the ground – even if just to see how often lawn bowlers at the greens next door are forced to duck from a stray shot.
Purists cringe and grab hold of their whites each time you mention the T-word,
but Twenty20 cricket makes the game much more fan-friendly.
Don’t get me wrong, this Ashes series is always enthralling.
Test cricket is all about tradition, endurance and the finely-tuned art of batting and bowling.
But Twenty20 has true sporting aggression.
Twenty20 cricket is where the big hitters really come out to play and fast bowlers can throw everything into their delivery, knowing they are limited to four overs to make their mark.
There is no holding back.
The game is fast and it is furious.
And it helps that a result is determined in a more snack-sized time frame.
Yes, there is the over-used argument that society is getting busier and people are more pressed in their schedules to watch sporting games.
But as a package, the shorter format draws in a broader range of cricket fans, more so even than day-nighters – fans that might otherwise be put off by all the technicalities of cricket in its longer forms.
You are entertained from start to finish by the show (and it is much more appealing to many than listening to a raucous Barmy Army for five days straight).
Strangely, there is even a taste of American sporting fanfare about the game.
Americans know how to do it bigger and better.
Even if you struggle to grasp the concept of the rules of American sport, foreign fans still get caught up in the hype of crowd costumes, the dance cam, cheerleaders, marching bands, blimps inside stadiums and smoke-machine player entrances.
Our Big Bash League has all this.
Strip all that away to just the game and Twenty20 cricket is still good value.
Ballarat was fortunate to host Victorian Premier Cricket clubs St Kilda, Dandenong and Greenvale last week in their triple-header country bush bash round.
Games were tight and even an early Dandenong batting collapse happened so fast that wickets were flying.
Ballarat could watch top state cricketers, including Australian fast bowler James Pattinson, battle it out in the same time as a basketball or football game.
This is why the Twenty20 format is growing in popularity among Ballarat’s cricket fraternity.
Scheduling still proves tough with matches juggled between entrenched two-day fixtures, usually in the pre-Christmas rush, while on-field, players enjoy getting in the spirit of the game.
It is a chance for young guns or attacking players from the seconds and thirds to showcase their flair alongside their club’s top players.
Most of the arriving Renegades come fresh from Sheffield Shield cricket and have a week to adapt from red-ball mode, as Will Sheridan put it, to their Big Bash games.
This is a process they are used to making and Sheridan says he can hardly wait to fire up his big hitting in match play.
Renegades captain Aaron Finch says he finds it easier to adapt to Twnety20s than changing his game in reverse.
Finch has made his name as a power batsman in the form of the game that does not reward patience.
Strength and speed are two basic sporting elements that fans demand and Twenty20 cricket has this in bucket loads.
Drop by Eastern Oval tomorrow and you will see exactly what I mean.