... And At last it ends.
This year’s world cup will go down in history as the worst ever. The tournament was too long and too boring for all. In pure cricketing terms there was only one team in the competition, and when the dust settled it was not surprising to find Australia being crowned champions once again. The rest were all playing catch-up with Sri Lanka emerging as the best of the rest.
If anyone thought this year’s edition would be better than the last one, well they must be terribly disappointed now. Other than India’s shock defeat to Bangladesh and Ireland defeating Pakistan, there were only 2 other close matches in the entire tournament. Most of the matches were one sided and it seemed the teams were completely in awe of the Aussies. So complete was the Aussie domination that they not only won all their matches, but did it with huge margins.
Image Courtesy: theage.com.au
From the start of the Super Eight itself the semifinalists were virtually decided. It never looked like any of the other teams would be able to dislodge the four teams who eventually made it to the semi finals. Though Bangladesh and Ireland deserved to be in the Super Eight, their presence rendered most of the matches at that stage meaningless. And with England and the West Indies turning in one disgraceful performance after another, the world cup never had the tight contests expected at that stage. Adding to the tournaments woes were two utterly one sided semi-finals and the tournament never generated the required excitement even at the business end of the tournament.
India and Pakistan have only themselves to blame for the sorry performance they put up on the greatest stage of the game. But their exit took away the major public interest from the game’s showpiece event. It is vital for the game that these two countries do well because of its immense popularity back home. However they both managed to let their countries and themselves down. There was so much infighting in both the teams that it would have put a soap opera to shame. There were accusations and counter accusations leaked to the media by sources close to all involved. Both India and Pakistan were more concerned about their own egos than playing for their fans which counts to millions.
Image Courtesy: aljazeera.net
The matters off the field were getting more coverage than the ones on it. Bob Woolmer’s murder and the subsequent investigation fueled speculation to be at a fever pitch. One was constantly bombarded with different version of the death as well as the investigation everyday. The tragedy that had befallen Woolmer’s family was forgotten and media engaged in sensationalizing the entire episode with shocking insensitivity.
But the biggest blame for the tournament descending into such a farce must go to the ICC. They got their priorities mixed up when they concentrated more on satisfying the broadcasters and the sponsors than catering to the needs of the cricket loving public. Ticket prices were too high and the ICC robbed whatever excitement the crowd could bring in by putting in restriction on everything the fans could do once inside the stadium. The restrictions ranged from bringing in products of rivals of the official sponsors to the musical instruments that can be brought in. This virtually removed the carnival atmosphere that everyone has come to associate with cricket at the Caribbean. Instead what one saw was empty stadiums which was totally devoid of excitement.
Image Courtesy: cricinfo.com
The less said about the format the better. Inclusion of 16 teams resulted in the initial group stages being banana skin encounters for the bigger teams. A good team ran the risk of going out of the tournament if they slipped up on a single day. But even if all the big teams had gotten through it would have been difficult to sustain interest in a tournament that stretches to almost two months. Looking back one can’t even remember the time the world cup started.
The ICC needs to do a thorough rethink as far as the format of the world cup is concerned. If they are trying to copy the football world cup then they should realize that cricket will never be as popular as football. Because of its wide popularity football can include 32 teams in its premier competition and still not suffer on quality. Cricket however is played by a small group of nations and when ICC tries to include more and more teams the quality of the tournament invariably suffers. They should also remember that due to the shortness in duration of the matches football can afford to have 2 – 4 matches in a day, thereby reducing the number of days the tournament is played out. Cricket due to its length can’t have more than two matches in a day and still cater to the needs of the broadcaster and the sponsors.
Image Courtesy: cricinfo.com
This world cup had absolutely everything in it other than good quality matches. Retirements, resignations, step downs, sackings, under performances, intrigue and conspiracy all marred the tournament. Add a horrible murder to it and you are left wondering if it’s a sporting tournament that we are talking abAout or the latest Hollywood thriller. Cricket is at its all time low at the moment. Cricket authorities all over the world would do well to wake up and smell the coffee. Otherwise the game will lose its fans forever, the very people who are the reason for the bringing the big bucks into the game.