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March 25, 2007

World Cup 2007

Asian giants become minnows

Kamran Abbasi
The wagging finger: Inzamam-ul-Haq chats with his team-mates, Jamaica, March 15, 2007
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Some might say that the World Cup is better off without the bloated stars of India and Pakistan. As a punishment for arrogance, decadence, and incompetence it is probably well deserved. But as arrogant, decadent, and incompetent as these two cricketing giants might be, their absence from the second part of this tournament does detract from it. Yes, there is a certain romance about Ireland's progress and something exhilarating about Bangladesh's youthful dash for the Super Eights. Yes, it is tremendous to see minnows walk with giants and giants fall to minnows. But the tournament has been stripped of perhaps twelve heavyweight encounters.

The players, of course, have only themselves to blame (along with their cricket boards and their coaching staff) although being wrong footed in one match looks a harsh methodology to condemn these two great cricketing nations to four years of waiting.

While the World Cup tries to recover from the murder of Bob Woolmer more than the departure of two former Asian powerhouses, the lesson for India and Pakistan is a simple one: "You have four years to prepare a team of professional sportsmen (and that also means athletes), selected by committees that implement a ruthless meritocracy, and supported by cricket boards that run the business and the administration rather than meddle with team affairs."

Of course, India and Pakistan will do none of these things. They will flatter to deceive and then recreate this shambles in the next World Cup. This tournament has reminded us that life is more valuable than sport but it has also clarified that arrogance, decadence, and incompetence are not a formula for success. Let's hope that the introspection this World Cup has induced will help India and Pakistan understand what professionalism is all about. If they have any lingering doubts they might spend the next few weeks watching how Australia, South Africa, and Sri Lanka expect equally high standards from the aged and the inexperienced.

This World Cup has ambushed Asia's giants but it has also shown them how far they have been left behind in international one-day cricket. It will take some serious structural and attitudinal reform to be properly competitive again.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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Posted by symnfreesee on (February 9, 2012, 10:47 GMT)

database that Petraeus himself stated was the best source of information and was verified by two U.S. intel agencies. Petraeus’s data comes from “Coalition and Host Nation Reporting.” I graphed everything based on eyeballing the data so the numbers are not exact.

Posted by Apurv on (April 10, 2007, 15:42 GMT)

The problem with the Indian and the Pakistani fan is that he/she is too emotive. When we win, they dance on the streets, burst crackers and distribute sweets. When we lose, they smash television sets, stone players homes, hurl their choicest abuses even on senior players.

We should learn that after all cricket is a game. And I believe Australia's domination will be put to an end by teams from the subcontinent, which also includes Bangladesh. It is a question of when, rather than if.

We have everything, talent, money, stadiums, people. All we need to do is to have proper administration of cricket right from the grassroots to the top, and select players in good form, rather than looking at their reputations.

Posted by Anusha on (April 4, 2007, 18:39 GMT)

World cup 2007 was what I was waiting for since a long time. A lot of excitemet and hope from my favourite team Pakistan went into vain. World cup lost it charm when India were also eliminated from the world cup. There is no fun at all watching cricket without these two teams. I agree with everyone that the format of the world cup is harsh. I will have to wait for another 4 years to see Pakistan and India doing well on the huge competition like this.This is turning out to be one of the uninteresting world cup I ever saw.

Posted by Ghufran Ahmad on (April 2, 2007, 10:15 GMT)

Not minnows,but minnowest, because the minnows who entered the second round beating the Asian giants,are still called minnows, so who didn,t qualified for super eight must be called MINNOWEST.

Posted by Cameron on (April 2, 2007, 2:48 GMT)

So K.S, we're all waiting with bated breath: what does make a professional cricketer/cricket team??!!

Sri Lanka & perhaps now Bangladesh are the only Asian cricket teams to grasp that concept...

Posted by Ike Latif on (April 2, 2007, 0:17 GMT)

The real hard facts..

In my opinion we all should realise that nothing is wrong with the format if commercial aspect of the game are not important, if they are, than anything and everything is wrong with the format. The gurus at ICC contemplated that all the big teams will scrap through the preliminaries little did they realise that instead of 250 million $ Indian-Pakistan clash (match in super eight that would have been a greater clash than the finals itself) they have to be contented now to witness a Ireland-Bangladesh clash, now South Korea and Turkey semis final in football is not the same as Brazil-Argentina semis, if FIFA would have had any preference it would be later not the former. Great amount of false sportsmanship and support of associates will not mask the fact that the wicket with a green top was not fit outfit for an ODI.

ICC had forgotten the basic Murphy’s Law anything that can go wrong would go wrong. If World Cup is about cricket, the format is lousy the top eight in the world ranking for last four years should have a go at each other, on a given day anything can happen with a green top a minnow like Ireland destroyed the entire Pakistani line-up. That is what cricket is al about, had it not been for that washed out game Imran would not have seen his team through the semis in 1992, chance and luck do play a huge role and that is why cricket is such a great game. ICC could have taken care of that. Pakistan/ Indian sibling rivalry and made sure that spirited clash of titans should have survive the initial matches of minnows and giants. The margin of error was big enoguh but who knew that Ireland /Zimbabwe match would be a draw and who knew that Bangladesh would scrap a victory over India. But it here where ruthless Murphy’s Law roared to life and destroyed the basic commercial model of the ICC, they had no chance overcome from such a improbable situation.

The absence of India/Pakistan is being definitely felt. It is a hard fact, Aussies/South Africans/Kiwis are relatively poor cousins of the ICC membership, they cannot replace the sub-continent prowess in commercial terms. The heart beat and the warmth of the cup and the tournament lies in the back streets of Calcutta, Bombay and Lahore, you take the billon and half of the audience out, you deprive the tournament of the legitimacy of the eyeballs that is what the big tele wants.

This 44 days long tournament is designed more about milking the most from great matches in super eight stages than testing the merits and capacities of Ireland and Bangladesh, much can be made in great sportsman spirited lectures but the fact is that ICC have a serious problem at hand, it is not only empty stands and un-affordability of sugar cane growers of Guyana to purchase a ticket but also empty living areas, no one is watching, that is a big turn off, and that scenario should have been catered for, a play offs like situation where at least Indians/ Pakistanis should have been allowed to scrap. The top teams who play test matches should be automatic qualifiers to the world cup for the sake of big money and big eyeballs, this cup has lot on both these counts, who cares about World Champion ship of baseball between Japan and USA, it is the universal level of participation by the sub-continent followers that makes the cup so important.

Lets be honest Aussies are great and no one reaches even close to their clinical display of talent but Aussies have no money for the big teles, the world televisions rights are cornered around Indian money, getting the huge capacity of 1.5 billion cricket craze sub-continent followers to the teles, that is what the big money in the TV centred tournament predominantly

Definitely Aussies and South Africans including England have other avenues to pursue, the pubs in London do not show a world cup match if Barcelona is playing in Spain. Ronaldino is a bigger draw not McGrath against Ashraful, very hard and bitter observation but a fact in cricket crazed subcontinent. The commercial interest of the game are as important as the other interest bordering philanthropy in game bordering charity i.e. to get the associates have a go at the giants but what about the potential loss of revenues and loss of eyeballs and passion if sums do not add up?

The price of exactly that distant likelihood is what ICC is paying. It was not about one match therefore the format caters for 44 days of matches, so that one day mistake may not becomes a disaster, however they forgot the initial hurdle where things went wrong. That ‘buzz’ is exactly what this tournament is missing now. Best of luck to everyone, but empty stands and empty living rooms was not the technique around which this whole format was designed, yes it is turning out to be a bore , we all know why because the super eight quality is thrash, some of the teams just do not belong their.

Let stop this ‘philanthropic bullshit’ of associates wining their desires to play additional big time cricket, yesterday Aussies reminded everyone else in the town how it is like to play with a great outfit, Bangladeshis were not a match to Aussies, but on a day they got Indians floored, big decisions and big occasions are not designed around expectations they are catered for matches that attracts commercial interest, why should anyone be interested to watch Aussies thrashing Bangladeshis in 13 over. The same clash could have been Aussies/ India clash and a different league all together. How on earth Hayden and Gilchrist would have even enjoyed their onslaught of putting Bangladesh to sword, with Dravid and Gavaskar fellow compatriots the game would have taken a different twirl. If any sensible chance exists of equal matches between super good Aussies and great South Africans was if the Indians or Pakistanis were still in play, other than Sri Lankans they can prove on a given day some competition to top guns.

That suspense is out, the home teams nearly relegated with front loaded programme that did not foresee West Indians losing all three games, the tournament will now probably lose the indigenous remaining participation, it is turning out to be a lame duck tournament, the suspense and chance which makes cricket so interesting is so much missing, a rain washed out game where the cornered tigers were all bowled for 94 gave Pakistan a chance to go to semis, how much of that rain was Imran skills is to date an enigma, if Inzi would have won that toss and proceeded to the next super eight stage things would have been different, on a given day teams do capitulate, Pakistanis play on front foot so does the Indians that is what it is all about, the way they play their cricket, the passion they display and therefore the matches they lose or win, to keep such a great company of interesting mavericks in the tournament who bring the flair, real money and thousands of visitors was the job of ICC.

ICC lost out on the BRIC affluence the new rising middle class of 250 millions prospective clients who had booked 27 flights from NY alone for that great Pakistan/ Indian expected clash, no one is coming for that associate clash and it is a definite lost to the world cricket, if 44 days of tournament was designed to exploit the publicity and goodwill and make money on all those counts they got it all wrong, if we are still going to fault like of Sehwag and Afridi or Inzis the problem is that even in the next 4 years they will hardly change, they will still play with the flair they play with and still display intense inclination to use their natural wrist power to hit anything outside the off stumps, they will still be caught in the slips, they will still be short of openers but the game goes on, they can be great fun in six games instead of two where their fate was sealed.

They will still lose to Ireland but on a given day on a green top but also they can mercilessly destroy the best in the game they need to be accommodated if the eyeballs have to be counted.

After near West Indians ejection all the remaining West Indians games are dead games. So if this is what the format was all about someone screwed it up big time. The world cup will only gather momentum as the semi finalists emerges, the three teams out of four which are to be out are already known. Ireland. Bangladesh and West Indians, the semi-finalist will be amongst rest of the five, now what was the point of making the hosts play their games far ahead of everyone else and making sure if they lose they end up playing a lot of dead games, who will watch them. This is very poor management and ICC got it all wrong.

ICC can relish the fact that how well they have served the interest of the associates but rest assure that with top 12 cracking games in super eight replaced by meaningless associate games the fizz is out of the tournament, it is sad to see the tournament being played to empty stands, a great tournament is fizzled out in infancy, we are seeing a birth of still born 2007 world cup. Hallelujahs

Posted by Pier Wasif on (April 1, 2007, 11:47 GMT)

Hello There, who ever says that Pakistan has a good captain in Younus Khan, please look at his attitude record from 2 days before ICC championship he should be out of the pakistani cricket, we need new team we should learn from these clown cricketeer like Younus & Inzamam these players have superiority complex they should be banned from representing pakistan in all form of international cricket, these guys are only good for themselves not for the team. We should form our own county system which include India Pakistan Sri Lanka & Bangladesh we should be free to play in each country, player should be exchanged betveen them and regular matches should be organised, I believe that new and truly deserving talent willbe produced we are no doubt a cricket loving country and we deserve better that what happened in this world cup, all the old & big name player should be history. We definately hgave better player then these big name loosers loosers.

Posted by Hamid on (March 31, 2007, 21:03 GMT)

Advice to Baby Inzamam: What's this BS about "why do people criticize us when we lose?" My dear, may be when you were a little kid and got an F your parents might have consoled you with " it's alright, just do better next time" kind of remarks. When you are the captain of a national team most people take you for an adult. And as an adult when you fail your back will be kicked. So, don't act innocent because that's stupid. There is no doubt that your captaincy had a lot to do with Pakistan's humiliation and Pakistanis have every right to criticize you. Grow up and face the reality. You play well, you're commended, you do badly, you're criticized. That's the way it is in the real world. If someone in his thirties has trouble understanding this principle, he really needs to be looked at by specialists.

Posted by Atif Siddiqui on (March 31, 2007, 14:10 GMT)

It is happening as I suggested earlier...

"I think we need separate Test and ODI teams. Release all the players from there contracts, before September select 10 top batsmen, 10 bowlers(fast and spin), 2 wicket keepers from best performances in domestic cricket, have few green pitches, dead wickets, un even bounce wickets… by July short list these key players, if current players can make the list than good, otherwise I would count them out. Choose the best leader among them and vice captain, Coach should be Pakistani (Aaqib Javed) good choice, foreign coach not effective enough unless Pakistani players proof themselves to be literate enough, Pakistani staff, physios etc.

Selectors to select 15 players, no influence from coach and captain, Captain in consultation with VC and Coach to select playing eleven. These three should sign off on the playing 11 before every game in black and white, just to eliminate any doubts, docs to be kept private and sent to selectors and PCB officials."

I wrote just two days ago :)

Posted by Kollengode Narayanan on (March 31, 2007, 8:54 GMT)

One of the remedial measures to improve performance of players is for the Board to prohibit contracted players from appearing on advertisements and endorsements. All endorsements shall be approved by the board and shall be from the team as a whole. All revenues will be shared between the contracted members and the Board.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kamran Abbasi
Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He was the first Asian columnist for Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com. Kamran is the international editor of the British Medical Journal. @KamranAbbasi

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