World Cup 2007 April 27, 2007

The moments belong to Sri Lanka

Australia have been awesome but the moments have belonged to Sri Lanka

When Malcolm Speed admits something isn't right you can bet your life that it's horribly wrong. After spending most of the last few weeks defending this turgid tournament, he now accepts that the format is too long. It is possible to create a format that incorporates associate members, gives the better teams less chance of being hijacked, and is done and dusted in thirty days. It took me five minutes to think of such a format, and I'm sure anybody reading this blog could come up with something similar.

I've seen every World Cup so far and I have no doubt that this is the most tedious ever--and not because Pakistan were knocked out. The semi-finalists were decided too quickly, as were the semi-finals themselves. The business end of the tournament hasn't done the business. A collaboration between the ICC and the local organising committee has managed to alienate fans and kill the atmosphere. The people of the Caribbean deserved better.

At least the best two teams have reached the final, which could be a classic, but even then will struggle to sweeten the bitter taste this tournament has created. Australia have been truly formidable, extending their remarkable record in World Cup cricket. If they win on Sunday, who could begrudge them their brilliant success? Do McGrath, Gilchrist, Hayden, and Ponting deserve any less?

But for each over-whelming favourite there is an over-whelmingly supported underdog. Hundreds of millions of cricket fans will be rooting for Mahela's Magicians simply because it would be great to see somebody other than Australia win. More than that the magic moments of this World Cup--Malinga's four in four and the final-ball defeat of England--have belonged to Sri Lanka. There is a variety in their bowling--slingers, swingers, and doosras--that gives them the best chance of humbling Australia. That's before we get into the poetic justice of Murali triumphing over the country that has brought him most humilaition.

Australia have been awesome but the moments have belonged to Sri Lanka. Either team would be a deserving winner. Take your pick, power or magic? I choose magic.

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