History of the T20 Cricket World Cup

t20 cricket

The seventh edition of the T20 Cricket World Cup is set to take place in Australia, starting in October 2020 and running through to the final on November 15th. The host nation have yet to win the trophy but with home advantage, the Aussies are listed as favourites but they will face stiff competition from the likes of India, England, New Zealand and defending champions the West Indies.

The T20 World Cup brings all of the best exponents of the short form together but what do we know about the history of this tournament and how did it come about?

T20 World Cup Takes Off

Club cricketers around the world had been playing 20 over cricket for years but it had never made any inroads into the professional game. In New Zealand, a game called Cricket Max was trialed but with hitting zones and other twists to the laws, it was somewhat removed from tradition and it rather failed to take off.

Over in England, the early 2000s saw the sport start to struggle with low attendances and little money coming into the game. Changes were needed and it was proposed that a new 20 over competition should be played among the 18 domestic counties.

The motion only just scraped through on a narrow vote and those counties will be grateful that it did. The Twenty20 Cup was born and, while teams carried on the new tradition of wearing coloured clothing, they looked to adopt new identities such as the Surrey Lions, the Notts Outlaws and the Yorkshire Vikings.

T20 cricket had been born but it would be a while before it moved over to the international stage.

Countries Catch On

The first ever T20 international was played between New Zealand and Australia in 2005 and it’s fair to say that the teams didn’t take it that seriously. Players wore retro clothing and had nicknames on their shirts and it was all a bit of a joke.

Things started to get serious later in the year when England played the Aussies in a T20 World Cup game prior to the Ashes tour. The sides gave no quarter in a hard-fought match which set the tone for the tests that followed.

In the subsequent two years, other countries picked up the baton and staged their own T20 World Cup internationals and finally, in 2007 the very first tournament of World Cup was held in this format.

Early Tournaments

That first edition of the T20 World Cup took place in South Africa with twelve nations taking part. The ten test playing countries of the time were joined by Scotland and Kenya who were competent limited overs teams at that stage.

The shortest form of the game can still deliver shocks but there were no real surprises in the 2007 tournament other than the fact that England, who had effectively invented T20, were eliminated at the group stage without a point.

India and Pakistan made it through to the final with the Indians scraping home by five runs on the back of 75 from Gautam Gambhir.

2009 saw the tournament head to England and the hosts were to be embarrassed once again. This time, a four-wicket defeat to the Netherlands highlighted the unpredictability of T20 cricket but England did at least scrape through to the second phase.

The winners this time were Pakistan who avenged their defeat two years earlier with a comfortable, eight wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the final.

T20 Matures

By the time the 2010 T20 World Cup was played in the West Indies, the format had progressed quite considerably. Teams had started to work out their tactics and the contests and results were far less random than they had been in the past.

The evidence of that is borne out by the fact that England, who had struggled so much in the first two World Cups, came through to win the tournament. Spurred on by great limited overs players such as Kevin Pietersen, Craig Kieswetter and the skipper Paul Collingwood, England beat the old enemy Australia by seven wickets in the final.

Another quick turnaround saw the T20 Cricket World Cup head to Sri Lanka just two years later. The 2012 competition was eventually won by the West Indies who defeated the host nation by 36 runs in a rather one-sided final.

Like Pakistan previously, Sri Lanka were to enjoy some revenge when the competition made its way to Bangladesh in 2014. The Sri Lanka team had won the 50 Over version of the World Cup in 1996 and were strong in limited overs forms at this time so the victory certainly wasn’t a shock.

16 teams took part in the tournament and in the final, Sri Lanka enjoyed a comfortable win over India by six wickets with 13 balls to spare.

The 2016 tournament brings us right up to date and, after a series of rather one-sided finals, the game between West Indies and England was the most thrilling contest so far. This is the match where the Windies were down and out before Carlos Brathwaite smashed four consecutive sixes and handed his side their second title.

Ben Stokes was distraught as his final over troubles handed victory to the West Indies in a match that was the best possible advert for T20 cricket.

Team Records

As we have seen, the most successful team in the history of the T20 World Cup are the West Indies who are the only country to have lifted the trophy twice. Sri Lanka, England, India and Pakistan have won on one occasion each and those four teams will be looking to emulate the Windies when the tournament heads to Australia in 2020.

As for the side with the most wins in the competition, that record is currently held by Sri Lanka who have claimed 22 victories in 35 overall matches. That may come as a surprise and it’s a record that could well be overtaken by India at the next World Cup.

Sri Lanka also hold the record for biggest margin of victory and their 172 run win over Kenya in 2007 is a mark that may stand for some considerable time. Perhaps not surprisingly, this game also featured the highest team total in T20 World Cup cricket as Sri Lanka posted 260/8 against their struggling opponents.

As for the lowest team total, this was posted against the Sri Lankans when the Netherlands made just 39 at the 2014 tournament. Once again, it’s no surprise at all to learn that this game produced the lowest aggregate score of any match at the tournament at just 79 runs.

Individual Records

Sri Lanka also feature heavily when it comes to individual records at the Cricket World Cup. They have two batsmen in the top five list of highest run scorers with Mahela Jayawardene leading the way with 1,106 and at this stage, he’s the only man to have gone past 1000 World Cup runs.

As for the highest individual score, that record currently rests with Brendon McCullum who made 123 for New Zealand against Bangladesh in 2012. McCullum was a dangerous hitter for the Kiwis but the record for highest average stands with Virat Kohli whose incredible 86.33 is some way ahead of nearest challenger Mike Hussey at 54.62.

In the lead up to the 2020 World Cup, seven men have scored individual centuries but only one of them – Chris Gayle – has gone past the one hundred mark twice. Gayle actually holds five individual batting records and the West Indian left hander has also hit the fastest century, the most sixes in the tournament and in an innings, and he has scored the most runs in boundaries in an individual innings.

Now we come on to the bowlers and the leading wicket taker in World Cup history is Shahid Afridi with 39 victims. Lasith Malinga is just behind on 38 and if the ‘slinger’ makes it to the tournament in 2020, he should go past Afridi’s mark.

The record for best bowling in an innings is held by another Sri Lankan as Ajantha Mendis returned the incredible figures of 6/8 against Zimbabwe in 2012. Mendis also holds the record for the best World Cup strike rate at 13.4 while his average of 15.02 is second only to Samuel Badree with 13.58.


Like it’s 50 Over counterpart, the T20 Cricket World Cup has approached the tournament in various different ways in the past and there is no single format which we can underline.

The game is growing however and with more countries playing official ICC World Twenty20 internationals than ever before, the format for the 2020 World Cup may well be with us for some time. Through a set of qualifiers, eight teams have come through to compete in the first round. They will be split into two groups of four and the top two in each section will go through to the second phase which is known as the Super 12s.

The second round features two groups of six teams and the top two sides in each section will progress to the semi finals. The semis and the final are then played on a straight knockout basis. There is, of course, no guarantee that this situation will continue for future World Cups but with so many more nations needing to be accommodated, it might be fair to assume that this will be the case.

Moving Ahead

The world loves T20 cricket and that’s why the schedule works a little differently to the 50 over format. When the seventh tournament is played in 2020, it will have been four years since its predecessor but from there, we will move quickly on to India in 2021.

The next date has yet to be confirmed but we could expect that the ICC T20 World Cup will be held on a more regular basis than the 50 Over version. This is the format that the fans really want to see and it’s set to provide more excitement and thrills in the years that lie ahead.