2007 World Cup: Angry or amazed?

Clearly we're angry. This World Cup was the worst yet the moment we heard what had happened to Bob Woolmer. Take that out of the equation and it was still a disaster.

One of the main problems was the sheer predictability of the whole thing. At almost every stage of the tournament, you could be relatively certain who was going to progress to the next round. Stretch proceedings out over weeks and weeks and weeks and this flaw is magnified.

If Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa are going to contest the semi finals, as seemed evident about a month ago, let's see them. Instead there was a protracted period of going through the motions.

There were only a few matches in the entire tournament which actually mattered. The final was probably the most closely-contested of these, which effectively means that out of 51 games, not one was meaningfully exciting. The best match was England against the West Indies when both teams had already been knocked out.

The Cricket World Cup is often referred to as a showcase, but it was treated as anything but. The concept is surely that the tournament functions as an advert for cricket. Instead it was treated as a window of opportunity during which as much money as possible could be made. If the World Cup's a good one, then it will create new cricket-followers. These people will support the game over the whole of the next four years and beyond. Cashing-in is short-sighted and damaging.

The most infuriating example of this was the ticket-pricing policy and the way the fans were treated. Tickets were often the equivalent of two weeks' wages for locals and they were hoping to fill 20,000 seater stadia on islands with a population of 80,000. There's no other word for that but stupidity.

Once inside the ground, instruments were barred, as were alcohol and even plastic bottles. You also weren't permitted to leave the ground and re-enter. If a match is joyless for an undersized crowd, the TV can't hide this. An enthusiastic and raucous crowd can conceal all manner of sins on the field.

At least the final didn't end in shambolic circumstances with both teams needlessly retaking the field for a couple of overs when the match had already been decided - as happened when England won the 2005 Ashes. Oh, wait...

Sarcastic handclap everyone: [Clap]...[clap]...

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Monday, April 30, 2007

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