March 16, 2011

Don't knock the World Cup

The enthusiasm of the crowds, the organisation, the number of competitive matches, and the fact that three countries are sharing the load, has made this one a tournament worth watching
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Let's stop bagging this World Cup. As far as can be gleaned from a relatively brief exposure, it is going to be the most enjoyable since the first World Cup was staged in this neck of the woods in 1987. It's no use getting locked into a position. Better to sample the atmosphere, watch the matches, observe the crowd figures and let events speak for themselves.

Certainly the competition has its flaws. It was absurd to arrange one match on most days because it drew attention to the uneven contests and meant that teams were playing too infrequently. Ricky Ponting observed that his players had been rusty. Tractors get rusty after a few months idling in the elements. Cricketers are supposed to remain sharp and gleaning, especially during World Cup campaigns.

The misuse of replacements and substitutes also demands censure. That Australia could replace an ailing fast bowler with a vital batsman was ridiculous. Eoin Morgan, on the other hand, has withdrawn and come back again, another ludicrous gap in the regulations. Of course these sides were not responsible for the rules. Nor were they alone in suffering injuries. Numerous players have been obliged to withdraw, including Kevin Pietersen and Dwayne Bravo.

Substitute fieldsmen have also been coming and going at an alarming rate. It's high time umpires and match referees took control of the position. Luke Wright has spent more time on the field than some of his playing colleagues. Cricket has become soft. Substitutes and runners should be banned, along with endless drinks breaks. It's high time over rates were speeded up and dinner breaks shortened. It is supposed to be an entertainment.

Most of these objections are minor irritations and not reserved for this tournament. Some will complain about the Associates, but they are narrow-minded folk. Cricket cannot afford to be complacent about its top 10 nations and ought to be seeking fresh pastures. Other games regard places in a World Cup as a reward and an encouragement. Cricket remains short-sighted. A few one-sided matches are a small price to pay for the opportunity to spread the game.

Different opinions can be held on these topics but it's harder to criticise this World Cup as a whole. In terms of organisation, crowds and fun it has surpassed expectations. A small crowd was anticipated for the match between Australian and Kenya in Bangalore. Instead thousands turned up, and a fine time was had by all.

Happily the ICC absorbed some lessons from the debacle in the Caribbean. Most importantly they realised that ticket prices ought to be geared towards local incomes, not supposedly wealthy visitors from far-off places. The cheap seats at the Chinnaswamy Stadium cost roughly 30 cents. Locals could afford it and turned up in numbers.

Likewise the authorities realised that drums and trumpets are part and parcel of one-day cricket and indeed the game at large. Cricket is not a torture chamber. The idea that all and sundry are supposed to sit with glum faces and behave properly was simply stupid.

Putting the tournament in the hands of three nations has also worked a treat because each has taken pride in its performance and none has been overburdened. Pity that Pakistan was not able to assist. By all accounts a vibrant atmosphere has attended all the matches in Bangladesh. At times emotions have run too high, with stones thrown at team buses, and a member of the BBC production team assaulted after the home team's thrilling victory over England. Obviously these excesses ought to be condemned and investigated. Better exuberance, though, than coldness.

Cricket cannot afford to be complacent about its top 10 nations and ought to be seeking fresh pastures. Other games regard places in a World Cup as a reward and an encouragement. Cricket remains short-sighted. A few one-sided matches are a small price to pay for the opportunity to spread the game

Not so many years ago narrow-minded folk talked disparagingly about this region but they have changed their tune. Indeed they seem to have forgotten ever singing it. Nowadays even the rednecks feel at home. Money has had a part to play in the turnaround. Moreover the host countries - and hopes remain high that the likes of Afghanistan and Nepal can join their ranks - retain their enthusiasm for cricket. Any game that cannot touch people is not long of this world.

Sri Lanka has staged some fine matches, often before full houses. The Premadasa was packed to the timbers for the meeting with the Australians, only for rain to force the match to be abandoned after 30 overs. Pallekele, the new ground in Kandy, was bursting with energy for all its matches, and again enthusiasm was high.

The Lankans have put on a good show. Like India and Pakistan they have gone through the process experienced by so many newly independent nations, from copying the colonialists to a flexing of local muscle and eventually on to true independence of the mind.

The last time the Lankans staged World Cup matches they were thwarted by boycotts undertaken by Australian and West Indian teams alarmed by past incidents and reluctant to take even the slightest risk. Happily every invitation was accepted this time and every team has felt safe and welcome. Although its newest ground was built in the jungle, and no matches were staged in Galle, Sri Lanka deserves no less.

By the look of things Lankan cricket is in good hands. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are intelligent, committed and capable senior players with a few years left in them. They can help guide the youngsters. Never has the role of elders been more important than it has become in this era of IPL and instant gratification.

India has been its usual self, a whirl of energy, a stronghold of the game. To turn on the television has been to find the game debated by an extraordinary array of past players, and matches constantly replayed. Having watched only one match on TV at the time of writing, it is not possible to say much. Certainly the belting dished out to enthusiasts seeking tickets was unwarranted but otherwise the headlines have mostly been favourable. Moreover the new and refurbished stadiums are not as dirty or inhospitable as previously. Long may it last.

Overall the mood has been cheerful. To my mind the 1992 World Cup in Australia remained flat. The one on the subcontinent in 1996 was too tense. The 1999 tournament in England never really came alive. Like its predecessor in '96, the 2003 edition was spoilt by boycotts. And, alas, the Caribbean's first World Cup was an exercise in sterility.

Perhaps the competition has not been that hot. But then cricket is played by a fraught bunch of nations. It is no small thing that all of them are playing their full parts in this competition and getting along famously. Certainly it has been an event without rancour.

Assuming no disheartening scandal emerges in the meantime, the best of this World Cup might lie ahead. By no means is it inconceivable that the semi-finals might include teams representing predominantly Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Christian countries. Or else they might feature white, brown and black. Or else sometimes warring nations might find themselves competing on the same field and shaking hands at the end.

Cricket has its trials and tribulations, its thieves and cheats. Much less attention is paid to its glories, and most particularly to its possibilities. With a bit of luck they will be on display in the later stages of an admittedly long-winded tournament.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fastbowler55 on March 19, 2011, 18:44 GMT

    One of the best articles I have ever read from this author - very well thought out. Agree with the idea of banning runners and sub fielders. Play the whole game or sit out the whole game. Or play Sachin if you're happy to take the field with 10 fielders.

  • BMayuresh on March 18, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    @EdwardTLogan I completely disagree with you on every point, well almost. Associates should be given a chance to improve the popularity of cricket. They do add spice to the tournament except for some one sided matches. the point about the crowd is not called for as the popularity of the sport indicates the amount of crowd and its class that the game attracts. England is not the only country playing cricket and we are discussing World Cup, not an English trophy to be held only in England, it has to rotate in all the nations that have the ability to host it. The only point I would like to agree is that this sport is a Test of character and mind well that the past experience with the associates forced the regular team to play their regular XI against the associates.

  • ChandrashekharLimit on March 17, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    I agree. This WC has been the most entertaining one in recent memory. Hats to my fellow BD fans for creating the vibrant atmosphere for our home team. Really hope bd can beat SA and make it. 4 Asian teams in the QF will be awesome!

  • MWDZ on March 17, 2011, 7:16 GMT

    I fully agree with Peter. If the ICC wishes to broaden the Cricket Horizon, the Associate Countries need to be looked after. The only way to improve the standards of the game being played is to give more exposure to the players. This could be done by giving them more games - even with A Teams of the test playing nations or the players could be sent to countries to play in the domestic circuits for the required exposure. Only by increasing the numbers of the countries playing cricket will the game go forward and therefore reducing the number of teams in the WC will not help the associates, only help them take a step backwards. The WC is an event the Associates work towards over a period of 4 years and if that incentive is taken away, cricket in these countries will suffer and hence the performances of Ireland on the whole, Netherlands against England, Canada against Pakistan, Kenya against Australia show that with proper exposure the Associates can stand together with the big boys.

  • dinosaurus on March 17, 2011, 5:30 GMT

    Never miss a chance for a sledge, Roebuck!!! Comparing Hussey's late entry to the tournament to the unfair practice of running on fielding stars is the sort of thing I expect from you. Cricket, like tennis, has a "fitness" dimension as well as a "skills" dimension. You have to have the fitness to get the chance to display your skills. Perennial tinkerers (e.g. Duncan Fletcher) pushing the margins in interpreting the laws of the game is what has caused what you justly criticise. How that compares with not selecting one of your best batsmen for the squad because he might fail a fitness test and be unable to play is perfectly OK (in fact I think that is what the rules intend).

  • Meety on March 17, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    @addiemanav - you make a good point re: one-sided games. In Rugby W/Cups, you often get gross mis-matches, I was lucky enough to go to the WC match between NZ & Tonga. Tonga is a nation of islands with about 80 to 100,000 people living on it. They came to Oz to play against NZ, who is arguably the strongest Rugby nation on earth. My lasting memory was not of anything that happenned in the game but of the rival hakas (war dances). It blew the roof of the stadium! It was pure electricity, NZ won 93-3, I think. I will NEVER forget the start of that match, the non-NZ section of the crowd went APE anytime the Tongans did anything they were brave in defeat. I think people watching this WC bought into the EFFORT that Ireland, Zimbabwe, Netherlands & Canada put in, (Kenya was dissappointing). It is not about the result sometimes, its about the mini-battles within a battle that exist when Minnows are involved. Congrats H Patel of Canada! (Sign on for the IPL????).

  • Biggus on March 17, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    Good article, and nice to see I'm not the only one sick to death of seeing guys run on to the field every second over with a drink for the players. It's only supposed to happen hourly except in situations where both teams have agreed to an alteration. Today's players are just soft. Players in the past managed to last the hour without collapsing, but not these new, better than ever, fitter than ever ones. They apparently can't.

  • cricket2011 on March 17, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    World cup should be "WORLD" cup. ICC, BCCI and Australian cricket board should understand that..

  • ygkd on March 17, 2011, 4:06 GMT

    Any cricketer worth his salt these days wants to play in the sub-continent (and not just for IPL riches). Maybe this will alter the styles of the next generation from outside the region? We've seen just what the sub-continental diaspora can do for other nations, even the minnows - that is one success story from this WC, yet one that may not be there next time.

  • claustrophobic on March 17, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    Respect. Love your articles in smh. Looking forward to more such articles from you on cricinfo.

  • Fastbowler55 on March 19, 2011, 18:44 GMT

    One of the best articles I have ever read from this author - very well thought out. Agree with the idea of banning runners and sub fielders. Play the whole game or sit out the whole game. Or play Sachin if you're happy to take the field with 10 fielders.

  • BMayuresh on March 18, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    @EdwardTLogan I completely disagree with you on every point, well almost. Associates should be given a chance to improve the popularity of cricket. They do add spice to the tournament except for some one sided matches. the point about the crowd is not called for as the popularity of the sport indicates the amount of crowd and its class that the game attracts. England is not the only country playing cricket and we are discussing World Cup, not an English trophy to be held only in England, it has to rotate in all the nations that have the ability to host it. The only point I would like to agree is that this sport is a Test of character and mind well that the past experience with the associates forced the regular team to play their regular XI against the associates.

  • ChandrashekharLimit on March 17, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    I agree. This WC has been the most entertaining one in recent memory. Hats to my fellow BD fans for creating the vibrant atmosphere for our home team. Really hope bd can beat SA and make it. 4 Asian teams in the QF will be awesome!

  • MWDZ on March 17, 2011, 7:16 GMT

    I fully agree with Peter. If the ICC wishes to broaden the Cricket Horizon, the Associate Countries need to be looked after. The only way to improve the standards of the game being played is to give more exposure to the players. This could be done by giving them more games - even with A Teams of the test playing nations or the players could be sent to countries to play in the domestic circuits for the required exposure. Only by increasing the numbers of the countries playing cricket will the game go forward and therefore reducing the number of teams in the WC will not help the associates, only help them take a step backwards. The WC is an event the Associates work towards over a period of 4 years and if that incentive is taken away, cricket in these countries will suffer and hence the performances of Ireland on the whole, Netherlands against England, Canada against Pakistan, Kenya against Australia show that with proper exposure the Associates can stand together with the big boys.

  • dinosaurus on March 17, 2011, 5:30 GMT

    Never miss a chance for a sledge, Roebuck!!! Comparing Hussey's late entry to the tournament to the unfair practice of running on fielding stars is the sort of thing I expect from you. Cricket, like tennis, has a "fitness" dimension as well as a "skills" dimension. You have to have the fitness to get the chance to display your skills. Perennial tinkerers (e.g. Duncan Fletcher) pushing the margins in interpreting the laws of the game is what has caused what you justly criticise. How that compares with not selecting one of your best batsmen for the squad because he might fail a fitness test and be unable to play is perfectly OK (in fact I think that is what the rules intend).

  • Meety on March 17, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    @addiemanav - you make a good point re: one-sided games. In Rugby W/Cups, you often get gross mis-matches, I was lucky enough to go to the WC match between NZ & Tonga. Tonga is a nation of islands with about 80 to 100,000 people living on it. They came to Oz to play against NZ, who is arguably the strongest Rugby nation on earth. My lasting memory was not of anything that happenned in the game but of the rival hakas (war dances). It blew the roof of the stadium! It was pure electricity, NZ won 93-3, I think. I will NEVER forget the start of that match, the non-NZ section of the crowd went APE anytime the Tongans did anything they were brave in defeat. I think people watching this WC bought into the EFFORT that Ireland, Zimbabwe, Netherlands & Canada put in, (Kenya was dissappointing). It is not about the result sometimes, its about the mini-battles within a battle that exist when Minnows are involved. Congrats H Patel of Canada! (Sign on for the IPL????).

  • Biggus on March 17, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    Good article, and nice to see I'm not the only one sick to death of seeing guys run on to the field every second over with a drink for the players. It's only supposed to happen hourly except in situations where both teams have agreed to an alteration. Today's players are just soft. Players in the past managed to last the hour without collapsing, but not these new, better than ever, fitter than ever ones. They apparently can't.

  • cricket2011 on March 17, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    World cup should be "WORLD" cup. ICC, BCCI and Australian cricket board should understand that..

  • ygkd on March 17, 2011, 4:06 GMT

    Any cricketer worth his salt these days wants to play in the sub-continent (and not just for IPL riches). Maybe this will alter the styles of the next generation from outside the region? We've seen just what the sub-continental diaspora can do for other nations, even the minnows - that is one success story from this WC, yet one that may not be there next time.

  • claustrophobic on March 17, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    Respect. Love your articles in smh. Looking forward to more such articles from you on cricinfo.

  • on March 17, 2011, 3:13 GMT

    I have just used science, based on a paper I wrote in 2003, to predict a Bangladesh vs India Final! You heard it here first. To see how (and for a few caveats) see the full blog posting at http://www.robbrooks.net

    Rob Brooks is author of Sex, Genes & Rock 'n' Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World

  • EdwardTLogan on March 17, 2011, 1:12 GMT

    10 teams is okay but 8 is teh optimum number, with either two pools of four or each team playing each other once, followed by semi-finals and a final (perhaps the final could be best of three?). Personally, I would rather see teh World Cup return to its roots and be held in England every time, rather than shifted around the world in what appears to be a haphazard manner. Get rid of the blaring trumpets and noise making apparatuses and then maybe crowds will focus on the cricket rather than getting their face on TV waving a ridiculous sign that my two year old could have drawn better. Three things I do agree with are the issue of sub fielders, drinks breaks and over rates (may as well include runners also). No need for anything other than the two prescribed drinks break, no matter what the conditions. Cirkcet is supposed to be a Test of character, at the mment it is a Test of who can legally get around the laws of the game.

  • AidanFX on March 17, 2011, 0:11 GMT

    Interesting article - some nice reflections. It has been as engaging world cup so far. But one thing, the 1999 WC "never took off" - sorry I missed that one.

  • shot274 on March 16, 2011, 22:13 GMT

    Superb article. Tells us all why we love this game.The format perhaps should not be changed if the cup is held in the subcontinent. However if held in a country where the weather is much more unpredictable , to have all the associate members playing would be a risk. A top team could be knocked out because two'easy' matches were rained off and got half the maximum points. The other point has to be that if we want to promote associate members there is no point remembering them every four years!

  • NewYorkCricket on March 16, 2011, 21:31 GMT

    This could have been the best world cup ever if the associate countries could have been limited to one and everybody played each other. Australia may not play SA, Eng and India. India will not play Pakistan and etc.. What we have had are a few interesting matches a lots of Canada, Kenya versus big teams. I am a die hard fan, please do not take the real competition away from me. We have very good 9 teams and a decent number in Ireland. Lets stick to them and create some real fun.

  • on March 16, 2011, 21:09 GMT

    Cant agree with you there Niraj, the WC should come back to the WI. The ICC are to blame for the damp squib CWC 2007 turned out to be, they banned every possible item from the stadiums. At the rate they were going, it is surprising that people were allowed to enter the stadiums. This WC has been amazing, and a great part of it has to do with the atmosphere created by the noise and drums and music and people waving flags and bowling horns. Alot of those items were prohibited in 2007. I say give WI another chance and allow the Caribbean people, to be themselves, and it will be a tremendous WC.

  • on March 16, 2011, 21:05 GMT

    My biggest complaint with this tournament is the knockout quarter finals. We are essentially playing the entire group stage to eliminate the 5th team from Group B. All that is required to fix this is simply having the top 2 teams from each group contest semifinals. This means every game would count (look at the points tables right now), slip ups against the minnows would hurt and we'd still enjoy all the features that Peter Roebuck has pointed out. If you finsih 4th in your group you don't deserve the chance to knock out the leading team in the other group with one good day out.

  • on March 16, 2011, 18:57 GMT

    I agree on the point of innumarable drink breaks.Recently in Chepauk (IND/NZ)during the last and final one day match,I was astonished to see NZ 12th man taking drinks to the field during the 3rd over of the match.It was day a night match.Also bowlers who were fielding in out outfield near the fence were taking drinks . ICC should bring in regulations to curb this practice.

  • on March 16, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    Mr. Roebuck has, as is his wont, kept the larger persepective in view while writing on the World Cup. On field, the level of excitement that this event has generated is already quite high and is doubtless only going to increase as the mouthwatering prospect of the knockout stage approaches. Already, men like Kevin O'Brien, Ross Taylor and Keiron Pollard have provided some serious fireworks while champions like Sachin Tendulkar, Brett Lee, Mahela Jayawardene and AB deVilliers have oozed class and have even raised their game a notch higher during this, the most top-notch of all cricketing contests. Virender Sehwag has hit the first ball of each of India's 5 innings for a four! The Tie with India, the loss to Ireland, the defeat of the Proteas make the England team the most unpredictable one in the tournament by far...but the moment of real mad cricketing frenzy came when the Kiwis hit 92 runs in their last 4 overs against Pakistan! One cannot wait for the 'business end' to begin!

  • thefountain on March 16, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    1992. Flat? NZ vs Australia. Martin Crowe, Opening the bowling with Spin. Pakistan. The Return of South Africa. Flat? Really?

  • supersia on March 16, 2011, 17:12 GMT

    I'm sorry, Peter, but i'm not sure what relevance your point about different religions being represented in the latter stages of this tournament has. Cricket is a sport, and sport is best when all aspects of race, religion etc are not brought into the equation. I accept your point is just that, but the mere fact that you have mentioned it brings people's attentions to it. I would like to think that most people watching it do not see who the person is behind the sunglasses or the helmet, but see them simply as sportsmen trying to achieve their best. Why don't we just leave it at that? Regardless, i believe your column should be written in the capacity of a former cricketer, not as a self appointed champion of humanity!

  • Herath-UK on March 16, 2011, 16:46 GMT

    Nice article Peter. I know it will hot up further when giants start clashing in the quater/semi and the final.Would have been better if you metion where is your money to lift the cup after these results though my two contenders are still Sri Lanka or India. Ranil Herath Kent

  • inswing on March 16, 2011, 16:45 GMT

    Associate teams in the WC is much ado about nothing. Playing few matches against the top teams every four years does not help. Playing in the WC has an emotional value to the associates, but that is not going to make or break them. They need to play many matches consistently at a level slightly higher than where they are at. Something like a mandatory tour program for all Test nations' A teams to play the associates will go a long way. On a separate note, I don't understand the obsession with player replacement regulations. Before a match, a country should be able to put out any 11 players it wants. Why exactly do you need 16-member and 14-member squads with with rules about who can replace who? You don't.

  • Rakesh_Sharma on March 16, 2011, 16:39 GMT

    Idea to make cricket a real global game . Include T20 mens and women's in Olympics. Play 4 games a day during the Olympics. Countries like China , USA , JApan ,Germany will take cricket seriously as these 2 medals ( 6 medals including silver and bronze) will make a big difference in the final medals tally. Within one generation of olympic games , cricket will be very very popular. Play 4 games per day .Not like the wc which is dragged on and on with one game per day. Now if I ammistaken cricket is played by 25% of world population( Test teams). Other cricket involved countries taken together will be 70% of world countries. Olympics is a master stroke for spreading cricket. Once Cricket is in place i Olympics, Reduce T20 world cup to just once in 4 years.This way even the schedules will remain the same and no complains about overcrowding.

  • on March 16, 2011, 16:34 GMT

    I disagree with you that cricket is for entertainment. We may find watching cricket entertaining on account of our own passions for the game, but the players definitely are playing for the win. The ICC is just ridiculous. They put a lot of nations on the cricketing map by including the associates. Now when the ICC should be really driving the the development of cricket by setting up First class structures in these countries, they are removing them from the WC. The cup will lose its value if that is the case. I mean we get to see the same nations competing with each other day in and day out.

  • gouthamkotera on March 16, 2011, 16:21 GMT

    In India, cricketers are like stars of Hollywood in case of foreign players and Hindi Cinema in case of Indians. so a cricket fan in India comes to the stadium to watch their favourite stars. Save the Indian games where the opposition is no less than Villian of a movie, most foreign cricketers are heroes for us, just like Indian cricketers. we admire their cricketing skills, we enjoy their stroke making, their tear away fast bowlers. even a "Paanwala" in a narraw bylane of a remote Indian city can identify Ricky Ponting or Jacques Kallis or a Sangakkara or for that matter Kerion Pollard or Hashim Amla. Some of our western friends may have a fair idea of what circket is for us Indians, but visit the country and you will still be amazed. its bigger than what Rugby is for Australia or what Football is for England and Europe. the crazy following of an NBA or MLB or NFL in US comes no where close. This is the true home of cricket. move over England.

  • TheLight on March 16, 2011, 16:17 GMT

    I agree with most of what he is saying, but at whose cost?

    I think that a format similar to world cup football would be best.

  • PeterCook on March 16, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    What does 'bagging' mean? Is that slang? Use proper words please! Aside from that gibberish word, it was a pretty decent article, but the reason people are bored of the world cup is the ridiculously drawn-out schedule. Take today, one match with an obvious winner. Not interesting enough. If it wasn't for England, this world cup would have been interminable.

  • Rakesh_Sharma on March 16, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    Hi,Dear Peter Roebuck,the article is a very balanced one. By now it is very obvious that more than 95% of cricket fans wants atleast one or two associates.Atleast the winner of associate cup as it used to be the case earlier or 2 finalists. My question is is there a way these opinions and articles reach the ICC or is this just plain reading. As things stand, Ireland must be Full member ,where in their cricket can further improve as a result of purpose.

  • Super_Cricketer on March 16, 2011, 14:32 GMT

    Hello Sir, Excellent article. It is very sad that ICC is going to reduce the number of teams in the next world cup. Instead of cutting down the number, ICC should support the Associates to improve their standard. Can't you ELITE people do anything against this decision. I know that there are lots of people in ELITE panel who are against this idea. Please do something Sir......Please Please.....Please don't allow the MONEY hungry ICC to ruin the beautiful game....Let the cricket spread all over the world......... Let CRICKET be the winner.......

  • Alexk400 on March 16, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    worst world cup. 1 match per day ..boring...slow...empty stadium in all non india matches in india.

  • bustermove on March 16, 2011, 14:13 GMT

    "That Australia could replace an ailing fast bowler with a vital batsman was ridiculous".........I hope you are kidding Peter. If you had said, "That Australia chose not to pick Michael Hussey in the first place was ridiculous", you'd have a fair point but this, along with the digs about Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright, is just nitpicking anticolonial sentiment to suit the tone of an article spruiking cricket in the subcontinent. Since when did anybody tell selectors what mix of batsmen and bowlers were allowed to be in the touring party for a world cup? If Australia had chosen all batsmen and no bowlers in the original touring party then that would have been within the rules but somehow replacing a bowler with a batsman after the former is injured is seen somehow to be a devious bending of the rules. Considering that the other backup fast bowler John Hastings is unlikely to play a game, it would have been a crazy decision to pick a bowler and leave Australia's best ODI batsman at home.

  • smalishah84 on March 16, 2011, 14:09 GMT

    Very well written article

  • InnocentGuy on March 16, 2011, 14:06 GMT

    I agree with everything here except that 92 and 99 WCs were flat/not lively. Personally these were the best WCs ever. I remember watching the 92 one as an 8 year old and even then I could feel the excitement. Pak and NZ were the star performers in that WC and it was a thrilling tournament. So was the 99 WC. If anything, the SA-Aus semi-final is the best ODI game ever to be played. That one game alone did justice to the tournament. So many close matches. Zim beating SA and Ind in the group stages, Ind beating Pak in the Super 6s, Shoiab Akhtar yorking out most batsmen throughout the WC and then the semi-final. England has a big sub-continent population that turned up in big numbers to enliven the stadiums.

  • dalok on March 16, 2011, 13:47 GMT

    Thank you for giving the credit where it is due.

    Other than the format I won't change anthing.

  • SLCricketFan-72 on March 16, 2011, 13:33 GMT

    Very nice article with facts. This is a fantastic WC very enjoyable to watch. I am glad to see the gradual improvement of many Associate sides like Ireland, Kenya and Canada with every WC they have participated, over the years. 10 yrs ago they could hardly managed putting 100 runs on the board...but now they are even capable of chasing more than 300 runs to win against full member sides.! These teams have made over 200 runs in most of their matches against stronger opponents. ICC should take note of this and upgrade the associates as appropriate, instead of chopping them out of WC..! Cricket is a lovely sport that could be truly globalized with a positive mindset and approach by the ICC.

  • on March 16, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    Frankly the B group was interesting and the A group was utterly boring except ricky pontings groin protector incident

  • addiemanav on March 16, 2011, 12:50 GMT

    whenever i watch a one-sided game,i feel that the no. of teams shud be reduced for the next edition.i feel some associate nations dont deserve the place!but then,we get a 100 from kevin o' brien off 50 balls,and a guy called hiral patel wacking tait and lee for 6s over square and getting a 50 of 30odd balls for canada,i realize how much the wc means to these players..most neutral fans love watching these minnows play over their potential and surprise the goliath!!i think the format is all gud,and even no. of teams r ok(can limit to 12 as well)!the only problem is the scheduling of the games..one-sided games need to be hidden,which can be done only if atleast 2 games r played on 1 day!aus-canada can be played along pak-zim,and can even add one more game as well!!there r 3 countries hosting,each one of them can host a game a day..sunday shud be block-buster,not double header one sided games.ICC's biggest shortcoming is wrong scheduling!42 league games can be finished in 18-23 days!

  • on March 16, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    I hope this SPREAD THE GAME nonsense will stop soon.The game of cricket has made faster progress than most other games in the last 20 years,credit goes to the ICC & BCCI,not to ppl like me & others who type their concerns here on cricinfo.Bangladesh,PNG,Afghanistan,Ireland & so many other nations have embraced it lately.For those who say ICC runs after money,don't forget that it is needed for the stadia,Broadcasts & providing facilities to players &spectators and the ''30 cents'' that v spend on tickets will never be enough 4 it.So u find Cricket boring,stop following it or just enjoy the game.I still think there shud b 12 teams,10 is too few & 16 is too many.Go ICC Go...you rockkkk...

  • on March 16, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    very good article just as we expect from Mr. Roebuck. I wonder how the tournament would change if more teams were to adapt cricket and qualify!

    will the only possibility is to have a 20-20 WC for them?

  • Balumekka on March 16, 2011, 9:45 GMT

    As a Sri Lankan fan, I'm so exited that we are being able to host few matches in this WC in front of packed houses, specially after 30 yrs of war against terrorists which lead to WI and Aus refusing to visit us for 1996 WC matches. Although all of us wish Sri Lanka's win, its not a barrier for us to enjoy good cricket by any team. We have no history of spectator misbehaviors and that reflects the attitude toward the game. Even in big losses to home team, still you can see people dancing and enjoying. @ redneck: "how the locals may react if india is eliminated in one of the finals??? all ill say is i hope ahmedabad, mohali and mumbai stadiums have fire insurance, just incase!" I sincerely hope that our neighborers are well behaved than this and this in fact an insult to well mannered Indian cricket fans! Cricket is a great game, nothing else!

  • on March 16, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    Replacing of injured players need not be criticized at all. "Hussey for Boulinger" what is wrong with it? The players in a team is only restricted by numbers.. and who plays? how? at what position? is the Team's decision.. restraining teams from choosing what is right for their team's chances and balance, is like asking Pinch hitters to obtain prior permission from ICC to bat up the order.!!!! Using substitute fielders has only added a new, fit, healthy dimension to the game, and partly ensures a team is not hampered by injury to one of the playing eleven; although some may be misusing it regularly..

    1992 was good because all countries faced each other at least once.. although the rain-rule played bad sport.. and best of three finals for the top two teams of round robin should have been the fair format..

  • WCdan59 on March 16, 2011, 9:15 GMT

    We need people like you running the game, Peter, and get rid of those in power who are short sighted and running the game into the ground (See: 3 ashes series in 2 years - RIDICULOUS). Your articles on cricinfo and in The Age have been exemplary, and I agree with them 110%.

  • Gunning4Glory on March 16, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    This article does add a whole new perspective. I agree with having 10 nations for the next edition, but with some qualification rounds to reach 9th and 10th teams. One way to promote cricket outside of the 'circle of 10' is to have constant three-nation & four-nation tours which involves one associate nation. Agreed that the results would be a fore-gone conclusion, but at least, we encourage them to play more against the top-ranked sides. Making them play once in four years and getting thrashed in those encounters with the top sides - am not sure how much good does that do to these small cricketing nations.

  • on March 16, 2011, 9:06 GMT

    I disagree as 1992 was One of the best world cups. Agree with Peter. 1999 and 2007 were perhaps one reason why it should never go back to England and WI. Other countries have taken over in terms of infrastructure and experience element for both viewers on ground and television viewers.

  • KP_84 on March 16, 2011, 8:48 GMT

    I personally have no objections to teams using their 12th man as a substitute fielder. Having fresh legs on the field improves the standard of fielding, and secondly, gives a opportunity for a player (who might have batted more a long period of time in the earlier session) to take a rest. Obviously you're going to have more drinks breaks in the South Asian heat than you would in say England or New Zealand - that's to be expected. If sharing the load of hosting the even among several nations leads to a better quality tournament, then why wasn't 'West Indies 2007' the best World Cup ever?

  • KP_84 on March 16, 2011, 8:38 GMT

    I'd like to congradulate the author on completing an entire article without mentioning non-cricketing issues relating to Sri Lanka - something he didn't manage in several articles he recently wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald. We are much more interested in your views on professional sports, particularly cricket, than your political opinions.

  • on March 16, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    The format of this world cup should have been following: Say A1, A2, A3, A4 and B1, B2, B3, B4 are the 4 top teams in Group A and B respectively. The top 2 teams, A1 and B1 go to the semifinals directly. A3 plays B4, the winner of this match playing B2. Call the winner of this match C1. Similarly, A4 plays B3, the winner of this match playing A2. Call the winner of this match D1. In the semis, A1 plays D1 while B1 plays C1 with the winners proceeding to the final. Advantages: 1. There is a reward for the team finishing at top of the group meaning which all matches are keenly fought. 2. Since top 4 teams from each group qualify, the marketting gurus are happy that India qualifies to the next stage. 3. Same number of matches as earlier i.e. 49. Group topper is rewarded with being 2 matches away from the trophy, while group 2nd has to play 3 matches to win the trophy. Similarly teams finishing 3rd and 4th have to win 4 matches consecutively to win the trophy. What do you guys say?

  • Gizza on March 16, 2011, 8:20 GMT

    Good article Peter but as always why do you always feel the need to name religions and ethinicities all the time? Nearly every article of yours talks about Christians and Muslims and whatnot, black and white people, etc. There have been no religious or racial tensions in the World Cup so there it was completely random of you to insert that towards the end of the article. Yes you are talking about harmony not conflict but even then there is no point to talk about it. Bringing issues like religion, race, ethnicity, wars and history when you should be talking about cricket (at least most of the time) is becoming quite tiresome and cliche.

  • Sreerang on March 16, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    Everyone talks of involving associate nations to promote the game. While I have nothing against it, I wonder how does playing the top teams once in four years (that too ODIs) can improve their game. Alistair Campbell has already gone on record saying that lack of test cricket has hurt Zimbabwe. So why not have each test playing nation play an associate nation at least once a year and have their 'A' teams play 2 series against the associate nations every year compulsorily? That should really help build up the game more than the these WC matches. That said, the article is good and be sure, the Indians, Bangladeshis and the SriLankans are lapping it up.

  • on March 16, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    I have to agree with redneck .........Every Cricket stadium hosting ODI in India should have Fire safety and insurance ........ World remember the two occasions in 1996 world cup when India was on the brink of elimination and Indian fans tried to set the stadium on fire...........No one knows if India get eliminated in QFs or SFs in this world cup, how will the crowd react?

  • usb916 on March 16, 2011, 7:58 GMT

    nice article.. actually this is the best world cup i have ever seen. itz happening..!! itz colorful..!! itz cheerful..!!! specially in srilanka fans dancing,cheering,wearing fancy items itz awesome...!! glad to see those beautiful men & women...!!!

  • on March 16, 2011, 7:40 GMT

    Peter I disagree about the replacements being ridiculous. Personally I want to see the best teams on the park, so I am glad that these rules are lets say "Flexible".

  • on March 16, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    Glad that Peter has made the point about teams misusing substitutes. India is a prime example here. Raina for Sehwag especially at the end of an innings is just not 'spirit of the game'. The ICC must carry forward the substitute rule that disallows a player for the time he was off the field from conducting any bowling/batting tasks across games. That may mean Sehwag does not open the innings for the time Raina spent on the field against the Saffers. The only thing is that TV and IPL has taken over Cricket in India. Otherwise I dont see a reason why this World Cup is a never ending tale.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on March 16, 2011, 7:01 GMT

    What's the aim of the WC? If it is to bring about high quality competition and to determine the best - then there ought to be only 8 teams competing - 4 in each group, with the top-2 in each group playing the semis. The 6 qualifying matches can be finished in the first week, with the semis and finals in the next week. The 9 matches can be held in 9 different venues to guarantee maximum crowd attendance and TV viewership. The winning team would play a max of 5 matches over 2 weeks and that's great. The last 2 teams in every WC standing will have to qualify for the next WC, excepting that they get an automatic entry into the QF stage of the Associate Countries' WC. The finalists of this get an entry along with the top-6 of the previous WC for the current WC, thus making 8 teams. At the WC people want to see the big boys play and let's not lose sight of that fact. The fact that 2/8 countries have to qualify ensures we get the best 8. A WC format which is compact will be the best!

  • on March 16, 2011, 6:57 GMT

    great article peter. really enjoy all your articles in the SMH. it's true that there are flaws in the game and the icc are doing nothing really to promote the game to associate nations. Any team that is exposed to test cricket and plays regular games against test playing nations, it is obvious that they will improve. Take Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Bangladesh though have not been winning test matches but they are showing that they can put on a solid 400 or bowl a team for under 250 and it's still early days for them. Sri Lanka, though lost many test matches in the 80's showed that they can be up there with the best and regularly beat the best.

  • on March 16, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    ICC doesn't seem to be working at all on popularising the game. I would love to see the WC being played by 20+ good quality teams by the end of this decade. The rise of Bangladesh and Ireland is a good sign. The 2007 WC probably the worst since I saw my first WC in 1996 and this one seems to be the best. The way the crowds turn out even for neutral games is heatening to see.

    On the topic of Hussey being called in for Bollinger, I wish ICC had strict rules that thawrted the replacement of a bowler with a top quality batsman. But I am a fan of Hussey and want to see him scoring lots of in his last WC, except when Oz faces India.lol.

  • iqbaladnan on March 16, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    What 92' was flat????? that was my first ever cricket tournament to see live. Every single match was cheered and enjoyed. I still remember people having radios with them all the time to listen to live commentary. To my understanding that was the most beautiful one (i expect 2011 will leave behind 92).

  • courierpost on March 16, 2011, 5:47 GMT

    Good on you peet, its so funny how you are always on the mark

  • on March 16, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    Another great article by Peter Roebuck.It is amazing the way he writes such gems frequently

  • Meety on March 16, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    Can't agree more in respect of the locations. I think the format is stuffed though. What reward does a team get for topping their Group? Nothing. Teams should be able to play 3 games in a week. In reality in a test tour its possible to play 10 days of cricket in 14 days! I would suggest that the final 8 in future should be structured under the McIntyre system used in the NRL & AFL in Oz. So the 2 highest RANKED losers get a 2nd chance game. Highest ranked winners go straight to the semi final, lowest ranked losers eliminated. I was happy that Associates played in this edition - even if most got flogged most of the time. If they go to 10 teams in 2015, you would think either Zim or Ireland will miss out. What about Afghanistan, they have improved so much in 8 yrs, it is very possible they could be playing tests in another 8!

  • khalekk on March 16, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    I have absolutely no problems with the replacement thing, you should be allowed to replace any injured player with anyone eligible to play for the country whether he withdrew before or not.

  • on March 16, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    1992 world cup flat? It was the best world cup ever. Apart from the Zimbabwe games (and I was happy they were there as growing the game is important) every single clash was between 2 major nations that could go either way. I must have watched just about every match in that world cup and there was great drama with Pakistan coming from almost the point of no return to win the cup for the first time ever, New Zealand stunning the world with upset after upset, and the star-studded Australian side struggling to get into 2nd gear. Anyway, I agree with the rest of your article, good job.

  • Rakesh_Sharma on March 16, 2011, 4:46 GMT

    ICC is behaving like Pvt.Ltd company. It is doing nothing to spread the game. I know now why cricket has remained confined to few countries. Been to US Canada,many european countries and find all other sports in schools.There are clinics/ Signboards for rugby,soccer, baseball, and all other games.Even for Taekondo. However never clinics for cricket found in kids and primary schools here. Why? ICC is not doing direct promotions. Either it is dealing with vested interested people of private boards in some countries or doing nothing. Thinks of spreading cricket in USA .How.Nothing heard about this game. The mainstream people do not know evenabout the game. Just played by immigrants .Infact cricket has got a tag as East Indian ( Indian ) game in North America due to the fact that just Indians play it.Ireland is the only place where the Ireland board is pursuing matters very systematically. Make Ireland Full member. Afghanistan,Kenya be encouraged.Must have 1 or 2 spots in wc 2015.

  • redneck on March 16, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    i may be one of those narrow minded rednecks you refer to peter but nicely written. full credit must go to the people of india for rocking up to every match played, even games involving kenya or canada get a crowd! i doubt that would happen in england or australia or any other test nation for that matter. just wish chanel 9 in australia would show matches on tv!!!! so far they have only shown the aussie matches and even then only 2 have been live the rest were replayed at 1130 at night! on a side note though you cant blame australia or the west indies for boycotting a match in a country that was in the midst of a civil war in 96! and the jury is still out on how the locals may react if india is eliminated in one of the finals??? all ill say is i hope ahmedabad, mohali and mumbai stadiums have fire insurance, just incase!

  • on March 16, 2011, 4:07 GMT

    Very Nice article. The world cup has been interesting. Group B has been simply awesome, with 6 teams fighting for 4 spots. Group A has been interesting to see who take the top spot. The Top spot team theoratically plays the weakest team of group B or is it. Also I really enjoyed the associate matches. I think the 10 nation world cup is a very bad idea. In football all 32 teams are not of equal footing. In reality around 10-12 have a chance of winning. Similarly in rugby out of 20 teams only 5-6 have a chance of winning. In cricket we should keep it in the same way and not always run for money. I hope in 2015 WC the 3 associate knock out the 3 Test Nations and qualify for world cup.

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  • on March 16, 2011, 4:07 GMT

    Very Nice article. The world cup has been interesting. Group B has been simply awesome, with 6 teams fighting for 4 spots. Group A has been interesting to see who take the top spot. The Top spot team theoratically plays the weakest team of group B or is it. Also I really enjoyed the associate matches. I think the 10 nation world cup is a very bad idea. In football all 32 teams are not of equal footing. In reality around 10-12 have a chance of winning. Similarly in rugby out of 20 teams only 5-6 have a chance of winning. In cricket we should keep it in the same way and not always run for money. I hope in 2015 WC the 3 associate knock out the 3 Test Nations and qualify for world cup.

  • redneck on March 16, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    i may be one of those narrow minded rednecks you refer to peter but nicely written. full credit must go to the people of india for rocking up to every match played, even games involving kenya or canada get a crowd! i doubt that would happen in england or australia or any other test nation for that matter. just wish chanel 9 in australia would show matches on tv!!!! so far they have only shown the aussie matches and even then only 2 have been live the rest were replayed at 1130 at night! on a side note though you cant blame australia or the west indies for boycotting a match in a country that was in the midst of a civil war in 96! and the jury is still out on how the locals may react if india is eliminated in one of the finals??? all ill say is i hope ahmedabad, mohali and mumbai stadiums have fire insurance, just incase!

  • Rakesh_Sharma on March 16, 2011, 4:46 GMT

    ICC is behaving like Pvt.Ltd company. It is doing nothing to spread the game. I know now why cricket has remained confined to few countries. Been to US Canada,many european countries and find all other sports in schools.There are clinics/ Signboards for rugby,soccer, baseball, and all other games.Even for Taekondo. However never clinics for cricket found in kids and primary schools here. Why? ICC is not doing direct promotions. Either it is dealing with vested interested people of private boards in some countries or doing nothing. Thinks of spreading cricket in USA .How.Nothing heard about this game. The mainstream people do not know evenabout the game. Just played by immigrants .Infact cricket has got a tag as East Indian ( Indian ) game in North America due to the fact that just Indians play it.Ireland is the only place where the Ireland board is pursuing matters very systematically. Make Ireland Full member. Afghanistan,Kenya be encouraged.Must have 1 or 2 spots in wc 2015.

  • on March 16, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    1992 world cup flat? It was the best world cup ever. Apart from the Zimbabwe games (and I was happy they were there as growing the game is important) every single clash was between 2 major nations that could go either way. I must have watched just about every match in that world cup and there was great drama with Pakistan coming from almost the point of no return to win the cup for the first time ever, New Zealand stunning the world with upset after upset, and the star-studded Australian side struggling to get into 2nd gear. Anyway, I agree with the rest of your article, good job.

  • khalekk on March 16, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    I have absolutely no problems with the replacement thing, you should be allowed to replace any injured player with anyone eligible to play for the country whether he withdrew before or not.

  • Meety on March 16, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    Can't agree more in respect of the locations. I think the format is stuffed though. What reward does a team get for topping their Group? Nothing. Teams should be able to play 3 games in a week. In reality in a test tour its possible to play 10 days of cricket in 14 days! I would suggest that the final 8 in future should be structured under the McIntyre system used in the NRL & AFL in Oz. So the 2 highest RANKED losers get a 2nd chance game. Highest ranked winners go straight to the semi final, lowest ranked losers eliminated. I was happy that Associates played in this edition - even if most got flogged most of the time. If they go to 10 teams in 2015, you would think either Zim or Ireland will miss out. What about Afghanistan, they have improved so much in 8 yrs, it is very possible they could be playing tests in another 8!

  • on March 16, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    Another great article by Peter Roebuck.It is amazing the way he writes such gems frequently

  • courierpost on March 16, 2011, 5:47 GMT

    Good on you peet, its so funny how you are always on the mark

  • iqbaladnan on March 16, 2011, 6:23 GMT

    What 92' was flat????? that was my first ever cricket tournament to see live. Every single match was cheered and enjoyed. I still remember people having radios with them all the time to listen to live commentary. To my understanding that was the most beautiful one (i expect 2011 will leave behind 92).

  • on March 16, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    ICC doesn't seem to be working at all on popularising the game. I would love to see the WC being played by 20+ good quality teams by the end of this decade. The rise of Bangladesh and Ireland is a good sign. The 2007 WC probably the worst since I saw my first WC in 1996 and this one seems to be the best. The way the crowds turn out even for neutral games is heatening to see.

    On the topic of Hussey being called in for Bollinger, I wish ICC had strict rules that thawrted the replacement of a bowler with a top quality batsman. But I am a fan of Hussey and want to see him scoring lots of in his last WC, except when Oz faces India.lol.