Melbourne: Speedster Brett Lee is happy that Australian players and cricket fans are taking the Twenty20 format seriously.
Australia have come a long way since playing their first Twenty20 international match against New Zealand in 2005 when the players donned 1980s-style uniforms, facial hair and hairstyles in a match seen more as a bit of a laugh than a competitive fixture.
Today, the Australians are all set to launch a revamped Big Bash League competition this summer, where franchise-style operations will compete domestically for the first time.
"Certainly the players think that and I think the public are now starting to realise that it is the third format of the game," Lee was quoted at saying in the Australian media before the start of the two-match T20 series in Sri Lanka.
"It's a very important format of the game. It used to be, reading through the press and probably from us as well in '04-05, a bit of a hit and giggle which it probably was back then because nobody knew how to take it on or what to do."
"No one knew that if you've gone for less than 32 runs off your four overs you've had an extremely good game. People saw you getting hit for 18-20 off your four overs and thought you were a bit expensive but as time goes on, 30 is pretty good. If you go for 40, even then it's still pretty good," he said.
Lee feels the Twenty20 is only going to get stronger.
"It's about understanding your game, knowing where it can be taken to," he said.
"Now that people are watching Twenty20 cricket, it's exciting. Kids come down after school, parents come down after work, they don't have to sit in the hot sun, they can watch it at night, it's got music - it's the stuff spectators love."
Australia will begin their two T20, five one-day international and three Test tour with the opening match at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy on Saturday.