You can come out now, it’s safe. The interminable has finally been put back into hybernation for another blissful four years, while the ICC scratch their chins and wonder how they can make it even worse. They really will struggle to produce anything quite so flawed and farcical as the 2007 World Cup which has been strung out over the past 47 days, like a terminal patient on a life support machine.
I’m so glad it ended as it did, too. There was a hope (or fear, depending on the levels of cynicism germinating inside you) that the final would sweep all the controversy of the tournament under one, big, happy carpet. But it didn’t. It ended in complete, incomparable farce. No one person was at fault for the last rites, when Australia’s celebrations were cut short – forcing them back into the dark of night to bowl another few overs. True, Aleem Dar ought not to have officiated in such a rigid manner and shown some semblance of logic – Sri Lanka were not going to win the game. Everyone knew that. But that is Dar’s way, and it is uncomfortable criticising umpires’ roles. They have a thankless task at the best of times and are first in the firing line.
Who’s fault was it, then? Anyone watching from afar – even if knowledgeable of cricket eccentricities – would have found it quite astonishingly bizarre that a side could be allowed off for bad light, seemingly handing the win to the opposition, only for both sides to be forced back onto the field. In pitch blackness. Cricket simply does not help itself half the time. Today should have showcased the best players in the world, demonstrating what a remarkable sport cricket is. Instead, the sport was reduced to an embarrassing pantomime.
Was the Cup doomed from the start? Is it the flawed idea of cricket having a World Cup, full stop? After all, one-day cricket remains the cheap, frilly cousin of Tests, so how can it be described by some as the sport’s greatest event? It palpably is not. It is a frenetic exercise to embezzle as much money into the pockets of the ICC and the organisers as is feasibly possible, at the expense of everyone – especially the developing countries and the locals hosting the tournament.
Call me cynical, and you will, but covering a tournament so closely has inevitable consequences. Australia are the best one-day side in the world, and probably the best in history too. But we have learned little else from this drab event other than the ICC are even more greedy than we first suspected, and Australia’s opponents – Sri Lanka apart – aren’t even close to chasing their coat tails.