An extensive yet intensive Cricket World Cup

After six weeks the Cricket World Cup 2011 has come to a close with India taking home the prestigious trophy and bragging rights for only the second time in the history of the competition.
When the dust settles we are likely to hear that this edition of the Cricket World Cup in the 50-over version of the game is easily one of the most financially lucrative for the organisers and the International Cricket Council.
The Competition
The Cricket World Cup 2011 involved significantly fewer teams that the Football World Cup but lasted two weeks longer. However, there was never a dull moment in the competition despite the length of time that the teams were engaged in battle in Asia.
In many respects the Asians, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, showed us in the Caribbean just where we went wrong when we took on the onerous task of hosting the Cricket World Cup 2007.
In the case of our hosting of the event the organisers managed to somehow convince the governments of the region that they knew what they were about. This resulted in a most disappointing expenditure on cricket infrastructure that could not readily be justified. Many people were encouraged to become involved in the expansion of their room stock for thousands of visitors who never came. They are now saddled with having to meet their expenses with the banks on their own. There is no Local Organising Committee to whom they can turn for recompense.
The Asians engaged in detailed planning and knew that it was necessary to fashion the schedule and fixtures such that Asians were destined to reach the last eight and even into the semi finals. The organisers were well aware that there would be a colossal financial cost to anything happening otherwise.
This year’s Cricket World Cup revealed the eagerness of the corporate sector in Asia to come forward and support a sport that is akin to a religion in that part of the world. They were aware of the global exposure that they would receive for their involvement and the medium to long-term benefits to be derived.
Incidents were kept to a minimum, quite unlike what transpired during the hosting of the World Cup in the Caribbean.
The one major incident was the stoning of the bus carrying the West Indies team following their defeat of Bangladesh before the latter’s home crowd. Reports later indicated that no one was hurt in the incident and that the Bangladeshi declared that the angry supporters thought that it was the vehicle carrying their own players.
Very early in the World Cup the International Cricket Council raised the issue of illegal gambling on the matches. The fact is that Asia is know for the enthusiastic involvement of gambling in cricket in particular and one expects that there would eventually be reports citing gambling of all sorts on the tournament.
This time around there was no report of anyone involved with any of the teams being found dead in any hotel room.
The minions
One of the issues emanating from this year’s World Cup is whether or not the relatively new teams are allowed to compete in the event. Rather interestingly, not long after this issue was raised Ireland humbled England in grand style in the competition.
Following the conclusion of the World Cup the ICC moved ahead with its initial decision to reduce the edition of the event in 2015 to 10 teams and this is likely to remain the case in 2019.
The latest decision of the ICC has sent ripples across the affiliate and associate members of the ICC who may now be wondering whether they should remain within the organisation.
One is not certain of the intention of the ICC here. While it is true that this year’s competition was rather lengthy it is also true that all of the new teams would have been involved in competitions designed to have them qualify to be there. If they are to make any headway there has to be room for them to match themselves against the very best.
The best approach to addressing this matter of the so-called minions is for the ICC to so structure the competition that they are allowed pride of place and that some are eliminated after each tournament given their performance and are replaced by others.
Some may also suggest that the ICC should be asking itself what it is doing to ensure that these countries elevate themselves to a higher level in the future such that they are not necessarily treated as minions.
In another move the ICC said that it would introduce a one-day international league competition between April of this year and April 2014. This will allow for relegation and promotion of teams.
To some of the teams being left out of the future World Cups it must now seem strange that the likes of Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and the West Indies are still left amongst the participants. They must think it some form of cruel justice.
The ICC must be at some sort of crossroad as it tries to come to terms with the competitive international sports environment. Test Cricket is at its lowest ebb except perhaps in Asia and the Ashes series between England and Australia. The 20/20 version of the game has become the most attractive of the products of the organisation but the competition via lucrative leagues in different countries across the globe threatens to pose major challenges to the ICC World Cup.
The ICC may well have been taken aback at the success of the most recent World Cup in the 50-over version of the game.
One can only watch developments as the ICC seeks to carve out its own niche in the
The West Indies
The West Indies team performed as expected. There were no surprises.
The West Indies team remains one that is filled with talented players who somehow cannot raise themselves to the understanding and commitment of a single team. This is not surprising since this problem is exactly what happens at the level of politics in the region. Just as in the political realm CARIVCOM is a colossal failure because of the selfishness of each of the members so too at the level of the West Indies team there is similar insularity.
Indeed, in the Caribbean, we see this insularity evident in all spheres of activity, except perhaps in the Rastafarian Movement. Whether it is Athletics, Football, Netball or Cricket, it is all the same in sport. The larger countries look down on the smaller ones even though in the wider world they are considered small.
The West Indies Cricket has sunk to an all-time low and for a very long time. While the ICC is making a fuss about making changes to the World Cup they appear t be protecting some teams like the West Indies.
There continues to be leadership problems in the team and this is but a reflection of the leadership problems within the West Indies Cricket Board itself.
The team’s performance at the World Cup was consistent in its inconsistency. There was absolutely no one who could have been considered reliable enough to stay at the wicket long enough in each of the contests to give us hope. Instead patrons and supporters alike were left wondering whether on any given day the team would be humiliated.
There was no sense of pride evident within the team. One was left with the impression that ‘it was just another game’.
The World Cup over the ICC is left counting its income and consideration would now turn to ways in which future tournaments could be rendered as lucrative as this one. The time is ripe for allowing the Olympics-style bidding process to impact the sport and its products.
Money runs things and the way in which the West Indies faltered in its hosting of the World Cup there seems little chance of us ever hosting any of these mega events in the future if we are to win a bid.
There is much to remember in this year’s World Cup. The masterful Sachin Tendulkar has achieved yet another milestone and left the world pondering his genuine love for the game, his discipline and commitment to it and to his country. He has lifted the art of batting to another level in the modern era.
Muttiah Muralitharan takes his departure from the game with much pride. He will remain a controversial bowler for many but his records will last a very long time.
Australia was sent home a wounded team. They have done so much for so long that their demise in the game comes with a certain measure of surprise.
South Africa continued to flatter to deceive but nevertheless left another good impression on the competition.
Pakistan tried but simply could not stand up to India on home soil in this particular contest.
No one would ever forget Ireland’s stunning comeback victory over England or the emphatic commitment of the Sri Lankans to the game.
At the end of it all the game of Cricket was the victor.