Monday, April 30, 2007

Finally

It's over. After seven weeks that feels more like eighteen years, the cricket World Cup is over. And what a fitting finale it was - a total farce. Following two of the most one-sided semi-finals in history, Australia and Sri Lanka met in Barbados. South Africa went into this tournament as the number one ranked side in ODI cricket. For some reason, they decided to blast their way out of trouble against the nagging line and length of Glenn McGrath and Nathan Bracken. As a plan, it's up there with the Polish cavalry sending men on horseback to take on German tanks in World War I. Sri Lanka similarly belted New Zealand thanks to a sublime Jayawardene century that made us think that maybe they had a chance of halting the Australian juggernaut and New Zealand's policy of employing competent all-rounders failed with injuries to Scott Styris and Craig McMillan. The two best teams had reached the final.
And then came the rain. The start as delayed, but even when the rain stopped it was two-and-a-half hours before play started. With 38 overs per side now, Australia racked up a mammoth 281-4 and Sri Lanka quickly fell behind the rate and when the light faded to near blackness and the Sri Lankan batsmen decided enough was enough, it looked as though Australia had triumphed. Indeed, they should have at that point. But the officials - all five of them - decided the remaining 17 balls had to be bowled. Which is nonsense, especially as it was pitch black by this point. With nobody quite sure of what was happening, nobody watching and everybody bewildered, it seemed to sum up the whole, drawn out experience.
The ICC say it'll be shorter next time. One would bloody hope so, however the suggestion is that it would still be six weeks in duration which is still too long. The ICC allowed themselves to be held to ransom by TV companies, especially in the sub-continent, and the massive irony was that with India and Pakistan going out in the group stage, those expected TV revenues didn't materialise. And for that, we should thank Ireland and Bangladesh - the two real successes of this World Cup.
Normal order has been restored. It just didn't need seven weeks to make that obvious.

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