The lack of success for host nations at the World T20 shows more about the rapid evolution of the format, than the disadvantages of holding the tournament.
There is no ‘reason’ as to why host nations fail at the World T20 (yet). It has been held all over the world, and all different teams have won it, which shows it’s a highly open and competitive tournament.
There have been six winners since 2007. Two sub continental teams were victorious outside of the sub-continent, England won in the Caribbean and West Indies won in Sri Lanka and India.
Historically it is clear that host nations have not just failed, but they aren’t even within touching distance. Eight different teams have made it to the semi final stage, but only twice has a host nation made that grade (in 2012 and 2016).
This is a lesson however, not so much about the drawbacks of hosting necessarily but of the nature of the format and the tournament itself.
The reason host nations have struggled is because T20 has matured .
It developed as a format, negating teams home advantage. It’s no longer kamikaze hitting and headless fast bowling playing to the masses, nor is it a format which lends itself to teams be familiar with their conditions or surroundings.
It bleeds unpredictability and the possibility of anyone having success, which is a key reason as to why people love it so much now.
This change has been driven by a bowling revolution.
Spin and pace off the ball is now king, and batsmen have not yet really adapted to this, wherever they’re from.
In the top 15 bowlers with the ‘most wickets’ in World T20, eight are spinners: Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Ajentha Mendis, Shakib Al-Hasan, Nathan McCullum, Samuel Badree, Graeme Swann and and R Ashwin.
Seven are seam bowlers: Lasith Malinga, Umer Gul, Dale Steyn, Stuart Broad, Morne Morkel, Dwayne Bravo and Shane Watson.
But, of the seven seamers, only three; Steyn, Broad and Morkel are ‘out and out’ quicks. And of these, Steyn only played two games in the World T20, taking one wicket (and didn’t play a T20I all of 2015) and Stuart Broad and Morne Morkel didn’t make their respective squads.
The remaining seamers use variations in pace and length as their staple, trying to prevent batsmen from getting in or become familiar with the game. The out-and-out quicks have largely been discarded.
The spinners have become especially potent, because they are not only wicket takers, but they are very economical.
Much to the disbelief of those who thought T20 may decimate spinners, they have given their teams control.
Of the top 10 most economical bowlers in World T20 history, only one is a seam bowler; Angelo Mathews, and even he is a bowler who uses less pace than his contemporaries.
The reality is, T20 cricket has evolved at a rapid rate, and batsmen haven’t quite kept up.
Bowlers have taken the format by the scruff of the neck, and forced batsmen to create their own success if they want it.
They have to create their pace on the ball, take risks at their own peril, because there are less ‘hit me’ bowlers.
Pace has come off the ball, and as much predictability as possible has been sucked from the game. A non-spinning spinner opening the bowling with a new ball is a challenge to an India, an Australian or anyone. It’s a new and different challenge.
Host nations have been failing because conventional factors like conditions and familiarity that prepare sides for success in their own back yard are far less important.
If and when a host nation wins in the future, it is not going to be because they play certain types of bowling well or are familiar with the pitches. It will be because they are ready for anything, and have the resources to tackle it.