Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reasons to be Cheerful

The following article originally appeared on

There's an old adage that says that 'history is written by the victors' - so presumably the official history of the 2007 World Cup will simply refer to an Australian side that never looked in any trouble throughout the entire tournament and emerged victorious to lift their third consecutive trophy.
Or, maybe not...

The more orthodox view - which is shared by winners and losers alike, is that the tournament was a disaster of Titanic proportions. Commentators and analysts have been queuing up to denounce everything from the cricket provided to the organisation. One journalist even compared it to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics - withering criticism indeed!

On the face of it the charge sheet is lengthy. The tragic death of Bob Woolmer, the inordinate length of the tournament itself, which prompted one BBC journalist to quip that when the tournament started the Beatles were still at number one and beer was a shilling a point! Then there were the early exits of India and Pakistan, and some ridiculous ticket pricing which meant that some locals were being asked to pay the equivalent of a month’s wages to watch a match. Even before the tournament started there were a lot of people in England, looking to make long term plans last summer for a visit to the tournament put off with tales of games already sold out and overbooked hotels.

However, maybe it's time to look on the bright side. Here are 10 reasons why we should look back on the 2007 World Cup positively.

1. From a purely parochial point of view the roadcrash that was England's performance at this World Cup will mean that the ECB will have to start taking its ODI ineptitude seriously. The occasional batting performance from Kevin Pietersen can't paper over the cracks any more.

2. In the same 'good from bad' school of thought, the death of Bob Woolmer must surely prompt the international cricket authorities to take a serious look at the problems of alleged match fixing and gambling.

3. In a much happier vein, the 'Golden generation' of Australian cricket succeeded in their last hurrah and gave us one final masterclass in ODI cricket. Mssrs McGrath, Hayden & Gilchrist will be gone by the time the next World Cup comes around - they'll be sorely missed.

4. Following on from point 3, we were all privileged to witness one of the greatest one-day innings ever played as Adam Gilchrist scored a truly remarkable 149 in the World Cup final. Some of his sixes were so long that they should really have counted as ‘nines’. Every batsman in the final scored at around a run a ball, except Gilchrist who bettered that rate by fifty percent - which was the ultimate victory margin.

5. Hopefully their ultimate failure to reach the final of a tournament they had been widely fancied to win should prompt South Africa to start to realise that it's ok 'talking the talk' - you have to be able to 'walk the walk' consistently as well. If tournaments were by scowling, sledging and generally being intensely irritating, Graeme Smith would have been raising the trophy last Saturday.

6. Whilst the tournament didn’t quite herald the arrival of Bangladesh as a major player on the international stage, it was a massive step for them in the right direction. Most encouragingly for the future, they seem to have an average squad age of around thirteen! They are now reaping the benefits of their long-standing deal with Australia to send development teams their each year. Never again should they be called minnows. Within ten years I predict that there'll be a highly competitive four way 'Asia' tournament - that a lot of us in the northern hemisphere will pay good money to attend. In the same timeframe, I expect them to reach a World Cup final.

7. One of the greatest batsmen of any era, Brian Lara was able to make his farewell to international cricket in a packed arena in front of a global audience of millions. That’s hugely fitting, because Lara has always been a player for the big occasion. The Australian retirees will be sorely missed, Lara is irreplaceable.

8. The New Zealand team gave more talented teams an object lesson in getting the most from limited resources. They were truly the one side that produced more than the sum of their parts. In Shane Bond, they have one of the most exciting bowlers in the world today.

9. Lasith Malinga’s four wickets in four balls will remain second only to Gilchrist’s innings as the abiding cricketing memory of the tournament. It proved, if proof were really needed, that in cricket Yogi Berra’s statement rings true – ‘it ain’t over ‘til it’s over’

10. One organisation that must have had a good World Cup is the West Indies Tourist Board. In the UK, Sky TV became almost an unofficial arm of that organisation with constant shots of the beautiful scenery and miles of golden beaches - commentators espousing the delights of each island like experienced travel guides. The beach backdrop to the Sky studio almost made you forget the inane witterings of some of their supposed ‘experts’.

Now, where's that Antigua holiday brochure?


Tony.T said...

People go on about how long the tournament was, but the length never bothered me (I want cricket all the time); what bothered me was a tournament structure that allowed so many dud games.

The West Indies is also a dud location for Aussie viewers. Midnight 'til seven in the morning is just no good here. I think it would be reasonable to play all WCs in Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and if they absolutely must, Sorth Efrica. Doubtless you agree, Mark.

Mark said...

Timings in Oz don't help us in the UK!! I'd like another tournament here, but we made such a pigs ear of the last I don't think we deserve one...