Aftermath of the ‘best ever’ Cricket World Cup

2011-04-06 00:00

SATURDAY’S final played in front of a capacity crowd at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium and a massive global television audience did not disappoint.

It brought to a close a World Cup that was a resounding success and considered by millions to be the best ever.

The scenes that followed India’s classy victory over a Sri Lankan team, who did themselves proud, will stay on in the memories of many.

The tournament provided everything we had hoped to see and more — upsets, thrilling run chases and close contests. The entertainment was enthralling in stark contrast to the ICC’s last offering on Caribbean soil.

The celebrations that followed India’s World Cup victory were unprecedented. We have seen more interviews with Sachin Tendulkar in the last couple of days than we have seen in his entire career spanning 21 years.

This is just an indication of how much the World Cup victory meant to him and to Dhoni and his team. Gary Kirsten deserves every credit for instilling belief in his Indian team, though he is quick to hand the credit to his players and his support staff. Kirsten confirmed that arctic explorer Mike Horne, who had worked with the Indian team before the World Cup, had been brought back for the semi-finals.

Typically self-effacing, Kirsten believes it was Horne, who provided the X factor and extra kick the team needed when it counted.

After Saturday’s jubilation, the ICC’s announcement, which followed their executive board meeting in Mumbai on Monday, has gone down like a lead balloon.

At the conclusion of the meeting the ICC revealed that only the 10 full member nations will contest the 2015 World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand.

The length of the tournament and the fact that some of the minnow teams were out of their depth have been the only complaints regarding the 2011 World Cup.

The ICC’s brutal response to these complaints has been to shunt Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada and Kenya out of their showpiece event for at least the next eight years.

Understandably the Irish are indignant. Captain William Porterfield’s ire has not been tempered by the announcement that the ICC have expanded the Twenty20 World Cup tournament to include 16 teams.

Quite rightly he feels this is no compensation for the embarrassment of having the World Cup door closed firmly in their faces.

Ireland did everything right, with some high quality players they were able to pull off the surprise victory of the tournament against England.

They proved more consistent than Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Both these teams qualify automatically for the 2015 event by virtue of their full membership status.

Ireland are ranked number 10 in the ODI rankings behind Bangladesh and above Zimbabwe at number 11.

There has to be a call for a different approach in deciding who competes in future World Cup tournaments. Qualifying rounds, the norm in World Cup football, are surely the way to go. Competition for the final two places would be a massive incentive for teams to perform at their best consistently.

I feel for Ireland who have gone from being the toast of the group stages to the tournament cast-offs.

They don’t deserve that. A justifiably angry Porterfield stated, “It’s every full member’s duty to look after world cricket. Now the whole integrity of the World Cup has been brought into question, because this is not a World Cup it’s a glorified Champions Trophy.”

On a lighter note. Congratulations to Graeme Smith on his engagement. One has to wonder whether the reason for Smith’s emergency exit to the Emerald Isle for “tax purposes” wasn’t a lot of blarney after all.

Neil Johnson is a former Zimbabwean, Dolphins and Western Province cricketer turned commentator who lives in the Midlands.

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