Jim Lyon - T20 revival shows there is still an appetite for fast food

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
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Stick in the mud, old fart, Luddite.

Call me any of them if you like. I prefer traditionalist.

There is nothing that would make me swap the Test match for Twenty20.

It would be like giving up the Le Manoir tasting menu for a Big Mac Meal.

Especially in an Ashes summer that, even inside three games, has thrown up enough drama to keep us talking about this series for decades to come.

But I am also enough of a realist to accept the place the happy-slappy game has and I confess to enjoying the domestic stuff.

I have yet to see more than a couple of IPL games, though, and I certainly won’t be taking up BT Sport on their offer of Caribbean Premier T20 League.

Its transience makes it a false format for the game. It almost contradicts cricket because it is so disposable.

And I thought the masses were agreeing with me.

Over the last few summers I have been at grounds for Friends Life t20 matches with crowds no more than have been seen on Sunday afternoons for 40-over stuff.

I remember one Northamptonshire game at Bristol a couple of years ago when I seriously questioned whether I had the right day. The place seemed deserted.

It has led to debate about whether the format had run its course and what could be done to encourage people to regain their enthusiasm for the counties’ cash cow.

But, far from dying, the last few weeks have shown a startling recovery.

I returned to Gloucestershire a couple of weeks ago - Cheltenham not Bristol this time - and the crowd was large even though it was a midweek, mid-afternoon start.

Hampshire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Middlesex have sold out - or at least near enough sold out - matches and there have been only a few of the games shown on Sky that I can remember being played in front of barren stands.

Which means, to paraphrase the well-known Mark Twain line, the report of its death was an exaggeration.

The reasons? Well, who knows.

I am sure the Ashes means the spotlight on cricket is brighter than in other summers.

Decent weather also helps.

Some clubs will tell you that football World Cups and similar events have a serious effect on them but I remain unconvinced about that.

Whatever the cure, the improved health of Twenty20 cricket is only a good thing.

Love it or despise it, the game in this country needs it.

It may well be turning heads away from the longer form in the sub-continent and, to some extent, Australia and that perhaps remains a long-term concern.

But our counties need the money and they need the profile.

It also helps, on a local level, that the Steelbacks have been doing so well.

A winning side will always attract a following.

And that is why even this Luddite is looking forward to Tuesday night and a quarter-final against Durham.

It might not be as enthralling as a Test match but it should be fun.

And let’s face it, there are very few people who can afford to eat at Le Manoir every day.