Cricket World Cup - final thoughts

A look back at a tournament that breathed new life into the 50-over game.

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    India is still in a state of euphoria following their World Cup win.  It was the prefect end to a tournament for both the fans and the organisers, mindful of the TV ratings disaster that accompanied India's early exit from the tournament in 2007 at the group stage.                                                                                                                                                                                      

    This time around, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men followed the script to the letter, meaning sales of widescreen televisions went through the roof, Indian TV ratings soared and the games governing body, the ICC, rubbed its hands at the prospect of a bumper pay day.

    The cricket wasn't bad either.The best final since 1992 was preceded by the organisers dream semifinal of India v Pakistan, and three exciting quarterfinals (sorry, Pakistan v West indies wasn't a match, it was a joke).

    Even the much-maligned group stages had their moments - mainly thanks to England, who recorded a tie against India beat South Africa and the Windies yet managed to lose to Ireland and Bangladesh and scrape through against the Netherlands.

    There were some black marks: the chaotic ticketing system led to angry and frustrated fans experiencing the Indian police's idea of crowd control.  The lead up to India's games against England and Pakistan were both marred by clashes.  The fact that most ordinary cricket fans didn't get a chance to watch either game left a bad taste.

    The cult of the VIP and VVIP was another feature of the World Cup.  I spoke to several fans during the final at the Wankehede stadium in Mumbai.  All of them had either got free tickets because a relative had connections or they were rich enough to buy a black market ticket at an exorbitant price.

    I know its rich coming from a journalist who got to watch the final from the comfort of the press box for free, but still.

    As for the players, Tilakeratne Dilshan and Shahid Afridi topped the batting and bowling charts respectively.  But special mention must go to Ireland's Kevin O'Brien, who despite smacking the quickest hundred in World Cup history probably will never appear in another tournament.  

    The ICC confirmed that the next two World Cups will be 10-team affairs, meaning the likes of Ireland and the Netherlands will miss out.  I find it hard to believe that either side are less deserving of a World Cup place than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.  But the ICC say that T20 is the best format for those countries, and as a result the World Twenty20 has been expanded to 16 teams, giving six Associate or Affliate members the chance to play in a major event. 

    But as for the 50-over game, the World Cup has given it a timely boost. The next edition is due to be held in Australia and New Zealand in 2015, if its half as good as this one, I, for one, can hardly wait.


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