The Twenty20 format completely changed the face of cricket. At the turn of the century, the sport of cricket was in trouble and in the midst of an existential crisis. The sport's governing bodies struggled to attract new audiences to the beautiful game and were looking for ways to reinvent cricket. Fast forward over 20 years, and attracting audiences is no longer an issue.
Eyes were drawn to a concept established by former Test batsman Martin Crowe in New Zealand, which was a shortened form of cricket known as Cricket Max. The powers that be in the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) built on his vision and established official rules, with the first-ever tournament played in England in 2003.
The first Twenty20 International to take place was between the England and New Zealand women’s teams in 2004, before the Australia men’s team defeated New Zealand in February 2005.
Despite taking its tentative first steps, the format wasn’t wholly received well by some critics, who remained sceptical about the concept. One such critic was the late, great Peter Roebuck, who was quoted in the early days as saying: “No one in their right mind is going to take the forthcoming 20-overs extravaganza seriously ... Anything less suited to solemnity than the sight of highly skilled cricketers whacking a ball about for 20 overs it is hard to imagine.”
Fast forward to 2007 and the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup - the tournament that brought the format to a truly global scale, and we haven't looked back since! Even Roebuck begrudgingly came around to it, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald: “Although not yet a convert, I am starting to think that some good can come of this form of the game."
We have taken several factors into account. The nostalgia, the quality of cricket, and the levels of drama. We make the following our favourite of all time.
Many cricket fans look back at the first-ever event with rose-tinted glasses - especially those that support India. It represents the only time India have won the event and it was a victory made all the sweeter given it came over their bitter rivals Pakistan in the final. It was a classic encounter - India posted a first innings score of 157/5 thanks to a well-made 74 from 45 balls by Guatam Gambhir.
Pakistan were reduced to 77/6 in response, but some lower-order hitting led by Misbah-ul-Haq (43 from 38 balls) carried the game deep into the final over. With just five runs from four balls needed for victory but only one wicket remaining, Joginder Sharma snared Misbah to send the Indian fans into rapture.
It was held in South Africa, with the final at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. The tournament’s top run-makers reads like a walk through the hall of fame - Matthew Hayden topping the rankings, followed by Gambhir, Misbah, Shoaib Malik, and Kevin Pietersen. The top bowlers included top-of-the-pile Umar Gul, while Stuart Clark, RP Singh, Shahid Afridi, and Daniel Vettori also made the top five list.
It is perhaps because some of the game’s modern greats haven’t had the chance to stamp their footprint on this format that this World Cup is regarded as the best. It provides a brief window in time, sparking many a debate on where these players would rank in today’s iteration of the game.
The format was different too. Instead of two groups comprising six teams, as it is now, there were four groups made up of three teams, with two from each group advancing to the Super 8s. The Super 8s comprised four teams per group, with the top two advancing to the semi-finals and into regular knockout tournament cricket.
Only one team has won the World Twenty20 title more than once at the time of writing - and that's the West Indies. They have two trophies to their name after winning the 2012 and 2016 tournaments.
Sri Lanka has appeared in the final the most times - featuring in 2009, 2012, and 2014 showpiece events, the latter of which they came out on top to register their only World Cup win.
Of the 12 full ICC Associate Member nations, only South Africa, Bangladesh, Ireland, and Zimbabwe are yet to feature in a final.
Here’s a look at every single Twenty20 World Cup winner down the years:
2012: West Indies
2014: Sri Lanka
2016: West Indies
One notable absentee from the above list is South Africa - they have only ever made the semifinals in this competition.
Could this be their year? We have the, as one of the longer shots for the title - we are pricing them up at 10.8 to win.
That could be a little too big on the Proteas, particularly when you look at their recent form in Twenty20 internationals. They emerged victorious in the series against England back in the summer of 2022, while they tied a series with India, in India, at the beginning of the year. South Africa could be a dark horse worth noting.
In last year’s World Cup, they dominated their group stage, winning every game they played. They came unstuck against Australia, mainly due to an inspired performance by Matthew Wade, who carried the result away from them with 41 runs from just 17 balls. You can back them at odds of 8.15 with Pure Win.
If you decide to act on our cricket betting tips, make sure you do so with Pure Win - we are renowned for offering leading pre-match and outright odds on cricket matches on our sensational betting platform.