A bloated non-event leaves an empty feeling
The World Cup might be about to finish, and Malcolm Speed is engaged in a positive-spin initiative that would make Alastair Campbell glow with pride, but the all-out assaults on the way it has been run continue unabated. In The Daily Telegraph, Michael Henderson warms to the task, explaining why there will be a rare sell-out for the final:
Embarrassed by their mismanagement of the World Cup, which has not posted a 'house full' notice until now, the International Cricket Council have rounded up corporate guests from every nook and cranny, and distributed tickets to anybody sound of mind and body who will have them.
This has been the worst tournament imaginable; short of spectators and memorable games, it has also been far too long.
The ICC have had to 'paper the house' time and again because the tickets have been prohibitively expensive for the locals. In St Lucia on Wednesday, more than 6,000 tickets were given away so that television viewers would not see a half-empty ground for the Australia-South Africa semi-final. Also, those grounds have been zealously policed by killjoys instructed to ban anything and everything that is not officially endorsed by the sponsors.
So a competition that was supposed to reflect the best of the Caribbean has been nothing less than a disaster for this part of the world, whose peoples have given so much to the game.
And Henderson, who can never be accused of courting the popular vote, then turns his attention elsewhere:
Neither Pakistan nor India advanced to the not-so-super Super Eights, and, no matter how many tears were shed by the ICC accountants, and the tournament's propagandists, that wasn't a bad thing. Far from it. There are too many cocky people in the sub-continent, particularly India, who think that the future belongs to them because they have attained such commercial clout. As Greg Chappell, their outgoing coach, reminded them on his departure, it's no use trying to match Australia on the field if your organisation off it resembles that of Zimbabwe.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa