Moeen Ali says T20 cricket has changed beyond recognition since he first experienced the short format of the game 14 years ago.
The England and Worcestershire all-rounder admits it had “almost a benefit match feel” when looking back at his initial memories of the competition.
It is a completely different scenario circa 2019 with Moeen having experienced the Indian Premier League for the past two years and now preparing to lead Worcestershire Rapids into Vitality Blast finals day for the second time.
He said: “It was a lot different in the early days. It was light-hearted although still competitive. It wasn’t taken as seriously as is now.
“It has evolved and become one of the best formats of the game very quickly.
“It almost had a benefit match feel to it. I was at Warwickshire for my first games. We had a quarter-final versus Surrey, I was 12th man, and it was just bizarre, quite different.
“It has changed now, a lot more serious a lot more tactics.
“We experienced finals day for the first time last year and had an amazing day, obviously winning it, but the whole atmosphere and the way the day is run is fantastic.
“Credit to the organisers and it is an amazing event. It is exactly that, an event.”
Moeen believes T20 cricket has also rescued many careers with many players now specialists.
He can also see how facets of the game have become part and parcel of other formats including Test cricket.
Ben Stokes’ reverse sweep shot for six off Nathan Lyon in his memorable innings for England in the Ashes win at Headingley as a prime example.
Moeen said: “People are more confident and practice those shots more – like the one Ben played – and are not afraid to play them and it’s becoming like a normal shot now.
“It has been great for cricket, great for players – and saved a lot of careers as well.
“There are bowlers and batters out there who probably wouldn’t have been around too much if it wasn’t for T20.
“I’m talking about people like leggies (leg spinners) and bowlers out there who were probably not too good for 50 over or Championship cricket but are perfect for T20 cricket.
“You can make a good living out of all the tournaments? One hundred per cent. That’s what people want. They want to watch that.
“We are very lucky in England that people still want to watch Test cricket but around the world it is different.”