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Editor, ESPNcricinfo

How the World Cup got its groove back

It may be more by accident than by design, but this edition of cricket's showpiece event is already a success

Sambit Bal

March 20, 2011

Comments: 60 | Text size: A | A

Fans queue up to enter the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, India v England, World Cup, Group B, Bangalore, February 27, 2010
Demand overwhelmed supply of tickets for India games, but otherwise the fans weren't discounted when prices were fixed © Getty Images
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Sometimes, in fact more often than we would care to admit or notice, things fall into place without design. And equally often the reverse is true. The last World Cup was tailored to be perfect. It had the most Associates (six), yet the elimination round was short and sharp (24 matches in 12 days). It was held in one of the most joyful regions in world cricket. And with Australia coming off a series loss against New Zealand, it was meant to be the most open World Cup of all.

But of course it wasn't exactly a tournament to celebrate. Two of the favourites got knocked out, a high-profile coach died in mysterious circumstances, there were hardly any close games, Australia made it a one-way street, and the organisation was terrible. It was the dreariest, most soulless World Cup of all time, surpassing even the greyness of 1999.

This time tedium was written into the script. The round of nothingness was to last a month. Chaos and poor organisation were feared after the early problems with venues and ticketing. And most of all, there were serious apprehensions about the format itself: did the one-day game still have the jazz to stay relevant and viable?

The knockout matches, the only ones supposed to mean anything, are yet to begin, but most of the questions have been answered already. Yes, there have been mismatches, a stone-throwing incident, and problems with tickets involving India matches, but on the whole the tournament can already be hailed as a success. The most irritating thing about it so far has been its theme song, from which there is no escape, and the dullest sight has been that of Stumpy, the tournament's slouchy mascot, trudging around the ground ponderously. Lovers and patrons of the game could live with these.

Andy Zaltzman, whose zest for stats matches his gift for comedy, dug this out a couple of days ago. Using the following parameters: matches won by three wickets or fewer, by 30 runs or fewer, or with two overs or fewer remaining, he calculated that the 2007 World Cup had only seven close matches. In this edition England alone have played six. Finally, after Bangladesh sank to their second abysmal defeat, it became certain that the top eight teams would take their place in the quarter-finals. But what had seemed preordained was hardly simple. A few runs or a couple of wickets here and there, and anything could have happened.

Even in Group A, which moved along relatively sleepily, there was the occasional spark. Canada nearly beat Pakistan. Hiral Patel, all of 19 years and confined to his hotel room in the evenings to prepare for his exams, carved up the Australian fast bowlers with such ferocity that it reminded Ricky Ponting of Virender Sehwag. For four manic overs against Pakistan, Ross Taylor became Sehwag, Viv Richards and Shahid Afridi bundled into one. Also, there was Afridi's guile, a now almost customary hat-trick from Lasith Malinga, pace from Brett Lee and Shaun Tait, and a retirement press conference from the mellow yet compelling Shoaib Akhtar, who declared in all earnestness that going from cricket is like a first death to him.

 
 
The MA Chidambaram Stadium, with its tall stands and Adelaide-like canopies, has become the most beautiful cricket ground in India. The fans of Chennai, for long the most knowledgeable and decorous in the country, deserve it
 

Even after the quarter-finalists were identified, uncertainty remained over who would play who and where. It has created logistical nightmares for the media (some are planning to travel to Dhaka from Colombo via Bangkok), particularly for us at ESPNcricnfo, since we have writers from different countries, but it also means that even the final match - between India and West Indies - has meaning beyond granting the winning team confidence and momentum.

The World Cup has also provided a stage for the subcontinent to showcase its affection for the game. Bangladesh, despite the misery inflicted on them twice by their team, has been overrun by passion and enthusiasm. Nearly 20,000 watched a practice match between England and Pakistan in Fatullah and scenes outside the Shere-Bangla stadium, as indeed in the rest of city, the night before the first match will stay forever in the memory. In Sri Lanka even the neutral matches have been played to near-packed stands. As I write, I'm watching the game between Pakistan and Australia in an almost full house at the Premadasa, and if you heard the noise from outside the ground you'd imagine Sri Lanka were playing.

In India, where the excitement seems to follow the national team (I watched four planeloads of fans descend on Nagpur on the morning of the match against South Africa, some having paid Rs 15,000 (about US$ 330) for a one-way ticket, and every hotel room in the city was sold out) matches involving the top teams have drawn reasonable crowds.

Over 20,000 turned up at the Eden Gardens to watch South Africa take on Ireland, and the din in the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai would have been louder than that at most English grounds when England were involved in their do-or-die battle against West Indies.

The organisers have learnt from their two dreadful mistakes in the previous World Cup. Barring the India matches, where the demand has far outstripped supply and most tickets have been reserved for members and sponsors, they have kept the prices low. At some Sri Lankan grounds, you could buy a ticket for as little as Rs 50 (about 50 US cents). But most of all, fans have been allowed to be fans. They have been allowed to bring in flags and musical instruments, cameras and phones. Security, while adequate, hasn't been overbearing.

One of the lasting legacies of the World Cup will be the stadiums themselves. They have never been as spectator-friendly as they now are. The new ground in Mirpur was always world-class, as was the one in Nagpur. Now, most of the other Indian grounds have joined them. Capacity at Eden Gardens and Wankhede has been reduced to increase spectator comfort, there are provisions for food stalls, and bathrooms, a basic but hugely neglected aspect of cricket grounds in these parts of the world, have been upgraded. The MA Chidambaram Stadium, with its tall stands and Adelaide-like canopies, has become the most beautiful cricket ground in India. The fans of Chennai, for long the most knowledgeable and decorous in the country, deserve it.

Above all, the World Cup has provided the best retort possible to those who doubted the future of the format or the tournament. The cricket hasn't been of consistently high quality. In fact, matches have often been exciting because teams and players haven't been good enough to hold on to dominant positions. But these matches have underlined, if any confirmation was ever needed, that the 50-over game provides a tapestry of drama and fluctuations that Twenty20, despite its raw appeal, never can. Despite its limitations, the one-day game has space for a bowler to string together a spell of bowling, for strategy, for planning a dismissal, for close-in fielders, for the building of an innings, and for a team to stage a comeback.

Finally, the World Cup told us a truth that we have known, and one those who govern game have mostly chosen to ignore: what the one-day game needs is not constant fiddling with or sexing up; it needs meaning and occasion.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Iyer on (March 21, 2011, 23:40 GMT)

I dont like the format of this world cup edition. Only 10 teams should have participated in this world cup, and every league game should have been made to count similar to 1992 format. And the finals should be made best of 3 or best of 5 or even best of 7 like NBA. That would make it more interesting and the winner would then deserve the title of world champions.

Posted by Cannuck on (March 21, 2011, 23:36 GMT)

Actually as far as the theme song goes, it is not bad. Quite a catchy tune after hearing for a few times. I have only one problem with it, & I wish someone thought of it at the beginning. Why is it only in HINDI? I mean the same tune could have been used to create one in SINHALA (for Sri Lanka) and on ein BANGLA & play that version when they play at the stadiums in those 2 countries. AFter all they are co-hosts, aren't they? I don;t think doing it in those 2 laguages would be an issues, sine there are many SINHALA songs that are direct HINDI tunes, with SINHALA words. I am sure BANGLA could do the same. It would have related better to each country. Unless the write/musician had copyright issues, ICC & organizers missed something unique there. May be it's still not too late to come up with this for the closing ceremony!!!!

Posted by Caveman. on (March 21, 2011, 21:11 GMT)

The 1999 Cup was a much more riveting one than the one played out this year. @ Nick Swanson: The 2007 was bad, not because India and Pakistan got knocked out, but due to very few close contests, suffocating restrictions on fans and a bunch of one sided games. Plus, yeah that World Cup was about as endless as the current one.

Posted by Swampy5 on (March 21, 2011, 20:28 GMT)

It may be an exciting WC in the subcontinent, but while I can't speak for other non-subcontinent countries, here in Australia it's hasn't raised the interest worthy of a showpiece event. The games have been good and the tournament is more open, but the drip-feeding of one game a day and the slow pace of the first round have not been conducive to generating interest over here. The ICC still has a lot to learn from FIFA in conducting a tournament which creates excitement amongst the participating nations, let alone the rest of the world.

Posted by zarasochozarasamjho on (March 21, 2011, 19:40 GMT)

This format is not good as too much will be left to chance, with the top 8 teams playing knock-out games. The 1992 format was the best as league games were played which made the competition more fair and hence more enjoyable.

Associates need to be encouraged; but should be limited to 2 in the WC; and there should be 2 groups of 6 each playing league games, with the top 2 teams of both groups taking part in the semis (no quarter-finals).

Posted by kingofspain on (March 21, 2011, 17:52 GMT)

This world cup has been too long and been filled with far too many mismatches. You could have accurately predicted the 8 quarterfinalists with no difficulty whatsoever before the tournament began. Now, after a month of preliminaries, the only meaningful and exciting portion of the competition will be over in about ten days.

Either a super eight/super six format should have been used or the 1992 format (only 9/10 teams playing a round-robin).

Posted by aab223 on (March 21, 2011, 16:03 GMT)

"surpassing even the greyness of 1999" Please explain to me what was grey about the 99 World Cup? Was it Zimbabwe's spectacular showing? The SA-Aus matches? Bangladesh beating Pakistan? Shoaib akhtar, glenn mcgrath and geoff allot demonstrating the art of fast bowling? Lance Klusener?

Oh I know, it was because india got eliminated that the 99 world cup was so dull. If only every world cup could be as exciting as 2003 (sic)!

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 15:49 GMT)

"England had some crazy results! The Associates almost won for about 10 overs! This is a great World Cup!" "2007 was bad, because India was upset!" Really? Is this where the sport is now? Because if it is, why even bother having a World Cup at all. Endless, constant bilateral matches aren't boring enough. We need endless tournaments too. It's a sad sign for the sport, to be sure.

Posted by ssenthil on (March 21, 2011, 13:59 GMT)

Excellent Article once again from the Editor. Well the world cup already seen many close games than it has happened in the last 4 years is really a Interesting, Out of 7, were involved by India, Defending 411 against SL, 1 run win against SA Twice. Now England involved in all their Group Matches as a Thriller. Perfect, I think 12 teams would be Perfect and a Round robin and top 4 to Semis would be a good format but Give a chance to Associate teams in b/w this 4 years as the the tournament Progressed Canada done really better and Kenya also Improved, so Giving a bit more exposure to this teams in the 4 years gap will help them to perform well at least competitive during world cup, ICC need to open the eye about Associates.

Posted by vinjoy on (March 21, 2011, 12:50 GMT)

it is strange that WC has been a success and held the interest of experts and fans, even though the format is terribly flawed. West Indies did not win a single match against a test team (Excuse BD please) and still they qualified and India were already assured of their place in QF before they could beat a test team (BD Excuse please). The most flawed format ever.

Posted by Morfi on (March 21, 2011, 10:04 GMT)

great article sambit. and the pak-aus game was a thiller in this same vein.I am glad Australia lost for once, lets see how they take on India - they will surely lose!! And of course, Ponting has a lot to answer for - he is the most brilliant cricketer and worst person in cricket these days due to his attitude. But I was MOST horrified at Ian Chappel's persistent bias and arrogance in commentary. There is something about his comments available here - have a look: http://blog.dawn.com/2011/03/21/comment-is-free-sense-is-sacred/

Posted by muneerkasri on (March 21, 2011, 10:04 GMT)

Yes, this is going to be a wonderfull tournament

Posted by thefountain on (March 21, 2011, 8:25 GMT)

Hang on a second. The 2003 World cup wasn't the worst cricket world cup ever it was the worst major sporting tournament EVER. Still too many associate teams. Other than that. Good tournament!

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 8:16 GMT)

Tried to present a compelling view of a boring world cup..

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 7:28 GMT)

The one team that has contributed the most to this world cup's success, should be England. They were made to look like insipid minnows, by the minnows themselves, but were ruthless in putting the "Chokers" in their place at Chepauk. but And finally, when they had their backs to the wall, they engineered yet another Chepauk Choke, which should have encouraged Team India to repeat the same yesterday. And not to mention that, India have been the other reason for the WC's success, with their tremendous volatility.

Posted by sir_viv on (March 21, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

Dear Sambit, Perhaps most of what you say is true. And that would be a good thing. But as you point out in the first line, "Sometimes....... things fall into place without design." Improvements in infrastructure, spectator comfort, ticket prices, etc. are welcome but were long overdue. I have two serious reservations. 1. The most open World Cup deserved an imaginative format to make it truly memorable. Chew on this. The West Indies lost all 3 times they played against a top side. Yet they are 3 matches away from winning the World Cup! This is not about the West Indies. Yet from this position, if they go on to win the World Cup, would anyone consider it in the same league as the performances of Pakistan in 1992 and Australia in 1999 when they roared back from the dead? 2. We could have played the World Cup in far better weather conditions if we had scheduled it in Jan / Feb rather than Feb/ March. That would have also avoided clashing with school exams and made it more participative.

Posted by sasken on (March 21, 2011, 2:45 GMT)

Wonder if they are open to trying games with the associate teams like they do in the EU Cup. Teams play each other twice. Home and away. And the results count to the WC. That way, there will be valuable touring experience, as well as move crowd at the minnows games.

Posted by ctjay911 on (March 21, 2011, 1:54 GMT)

Ketan managed to get more attention then the article!! way to go Ketan!!

Posted by FARUQUE8810 on (March 21, 2011, 1:28 GMT)

I like the format of this WC. This WC doesn't let weak teams pass by. You have to be constantly good to go to the next round. As for the lack of close games, can't really blame people for that it just happened to be one sided matches. Though I have to agree that there has to be less teams in the WC because there are teams that are just too weak such as Kenya, Canada and Netherland.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 21:40 GMT)

I think the theme song is quite good and catchy! I have been humming it a lot! it is not so bad! I do not remember any other world cup song!

Posted by Dont_Kill_Bowlers on (March 20, 2011, 20:46 GMT)

A decent article:The Summary was exact. The song is truly Grating, as a friend tweeted "If Vuvuzela & De Ghumake produced a lovechild we'd have a weapon to use if Aliens ever try to Enslave Earth", BTW do we need a theme song at all? A good chunk of the profits have to be utilised to improve cricket(infrastructure & player income) in Ireland, Netherlands, Kenya, Canada & other Associate nations. Cant associate overseas players compete in domestic leagues in the Sub Continent @Rakesh_Sharma: Yes, Ind vs SL had killed interest in the game to a good extent, but were required to bail out Sri Lankan Cricket coffers from near bankruptcy @Herath-UK: Yes Pallekele is a World Class stadium & the size of the ground is impressive as well but Sambit Bal might not've travelled there, the omission doesn't seem to be because of some bias anyway.Even I, an avid Cricket & Ground follower(with its history & cricketing nature) fail to remember Hambantota as crucial matches were probably fewer the

Posted by BroccoliPower on (March 20, 2011, 20:39 GMT)

@kryptic: either your Charlie Sheen (Drunk celebrity) or a pakistani cricket administrator, if not, you would have noticed the realm of interest and positively culpable drama during this WC. If your neither I would advice you to take up ice hockey instead; if it aint geographically challenging ;o) pe@ce

Posted by SDHM on (March 20, 2011, 20:34 GMT)

cryptq1 - I actually disagree with the thought of "spreading" the game. The ICC first needs to support the countries that are showing interest and competing, like Ireland and Canada. Help them with setting up academies and domestic competitions to help improve the standard and move on with spreading from there. Even Bangladesh could use help with setting up a proper first class competition. The ICC don't want to spread the game for the good of it, they just see money sadly.

Posted by Sunrays on (March 20, 2011, 20:25 GMT)

You can try and find all nonsense for the "success" of this world cup. But everyone knows, the reason for this world cup's success is India's continued presence after one month of matches. And the reason for the 2007 CWC's failure is India's early elimination. This ALMOST justifies the absolutely unfair set of rules ensuring India knowing its venue should it make the QF and SF before the WC, while its opponents have to wait till the end of group stage.

Posted by ...shahid on (March 20, 2011, 19:11 GMT)

The Best Format for the world cup will be to have all teams in a single group and each plays the other twice and the top four teams qualify for semi finals rather than having 30 days of cricket with meaning less matches ending up in telling us what even a rugby fan could have seen happen (top eight teams qualifying for quarter finals) shame on ICC and the people who think that this was the best format for cricket promotion. the best team will be the team that consistently plays better and beats most of the times the other along with performing in the crunch matches to take the trophy away.. not like probably England who qualify in the eighth position and might take the trophy away.

Posted by McFarty on (March 20, 2011, 18:34 GMT)

Great article.

Well done for recognizing the good work behind the stadiums and the great A- to C+ so far cricket that's made the tournament such a thrill to follow.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 18:12 GMT)

One US $ = 110 SL Rupees , hence Rs 50 = 50 cents .... The 50 Over Format will be killed by totally meaningless series i.e. India playing SL every 6 to 8 months for another inconsequential ODI Series ... Then having 6 or 7 ODI Series ..... Not having the courage to organise a series , where the last game will be played ONLY if it can change the verdict of the series (i.e. the last game can decide the series winner or if the team with better results is just 1 win ahead .... yes then play the last game ... but if the leading team is ahead by 2 or more wins, then DONT play the last game ..... it will make each game relevant & cull the irrelevant games

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 18:02 GMT)

chidabaram stadium is not so beautifull...its just the stands that look good thats all..the patchy outfield looks very bad..

Posted by gandalfinblue on (March 20, 2011, 17:34 GMT)

Since when did Cricinfo become the mouthpiece of the ICC? Mr. Bal: you have shown an utter lack of integrity by writing this article. Do you really believe in everything you have written? Who are you trying to relate to here? Definitely not the person on the street. I've been an avid cricket follower for as long as I can remember, and I can attest (so do many others like me) that this is among the most boring and pointless WC formats ever. Some honest journalism please, because it seems like this site is trying to forward some kind of hidden agenda here rather than report on cricket.

Posted by KishoreSharma on (March 20, 2011, 16:56 GMT)

1999 a 'grey tournament'? What nonsense. It was a superb World Cup. First, the format was innovative with all points carrying over into the super 6, meaning there were no meaningless matches. Second, it produced some great and absorbing cricket. Australia at some stage had their backs to the wall and had to win every single match just to stay in the tournament - they won all of them and won the tournament. Moreover, the two Australia vs South Africa games, including the semi-final, were magnificent affairs with some great cricket (especially by Steve Waugh and Shane Warne). This tournament by contrast has had tons of meaningless games. It has surpassed horribly low expectations, that is the only saving gracel. But the format is horrible and has allowed the top teams to rest players and pull their punches in the preliminary matches and wait for the quarter-finals.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 15:58 GMT)

Well said Sambit. Theme song is the worst you can have for any sporting event. Shelia Ki Jawani would have been a better theme song !

Posted by pvnkreddy on (March 20, 2011, 15:12 GMT)

What do you mean success? Just because England couldn't close with out all the drama woudn't make this a success. Ofcourse, in the sub-continent, us fans always make any cricket event well attended and spirited. If you look at this, the cup hasn't even started yet until the KO, while the earlier matches were of little use. Just because India/Pakistan could not make it in 2007 wouldn't mean the format is wrong.

And what's wrong with 1999? That was one the second best after 1992. Even Australia had to really scrape through, to win.

Posted by SagirParkar on (March 20, 2011, 14:39 GMT)

Well written article Sambit.. you have very nicely put forward the positives and some negatives of this world cup.. and you are spot on at the end.. ODI cricket does not need tinkering with rules and regulations to make it attractive and interesting, it needs a good context and well matched teams...

Posted by DrRiz on (March 20, 2011, 14:32 GMT)

its not the last world cup's format's fault that India and Pak crashed out. I suppose if India loses in the quarterfinals you all will blame this world cup format as well. except for the untimely death of Bob last world cup and the light problems in the final, the last world cup was perfect. the blame for india n pak not making thru group stages should lie on india n pak themselves and not on the format. and u have even mentioned Australia's great performance in the last world cup as a bad thing. sheesh come on Sambit.

Posted by Jerryant on (March 20, 2011, 13:56 GMT)

Sambit for ICC president!please send this article to Haroon Lorgat, i really hope that the ICC start taking away all these meaningless ODI's, particularly that dreadful ICC Champions Trophy which dilutes the occasion of the world cup!this WC will definitely revive the one day game in my opinion

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 13:17 GMT)

just bc india didnt make it big in 99 doesnt make that grey. it was one of the best organised and the semi final of aus vs sa was the best match in cricket's history...

Posted by Pingissimus on (March 20, 2011, 11:49 GMT)

Terrible format. Idiotic article. Enough said.

Posted by cryptq1 on (March 20, 2011, 10:39 GMT)

Most boring WC ever. Hopefully we will have some close games in the KO stages but to be honest I only see 3 or possibly 4 close games from here on in. Go four groups of four with top two advancing, that will give more associates an opportunity. The ICC does keep mentioning spreading the game, so give more countries an opportunity. But with 2 seeds per group the Irish, Dutch, Bangladeshis etc have a genuine opportunity of causing an upset.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 10:04 GMT)

Rs.50 (LKR) = 50 cents ;)

Posted by Idol on (March 20, 2011, 9:27 GMT)

Why are all and sundry who are involved with Cricinfo insisting on labelling the theme song as an irritant. And why is Cricinfo slowly getting opinionated at every given opportunity? In other words, why is every writer on Cricinfo beginning to sound like the average, misinformed sub-continental cricket fan? Also, do you guys read comments at all?

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 9:17 GMT)

@Ketan Rajawat: "Just a typo: Rs 50 = $1 not 50 cents" No man, Sambit Bal here refers to Sri lankan rupees, 1US$=110 SLRupees Cheapest tickets cost Rs.50 (i.e. less than 50 cents US$) But in black market they are sold 10 times their price. Still you need some luck to grab one.

Posted by voltron988 on (March 20, 2011, 9:07 GMT)

@Ketan.. The Rs 50 is sri lankan rupees..and the conversion is right

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 8:53 GMT)

@Ketan Rajawat Rs50 srilankan rupees =45cents not $1

Posted by Herath-UK on (March 20, 2011, 8:18 GMT)

Good article but wonder whether Sambit has had a glimpse of all stadia because no mention of most beatiful Pallekele stadium and Mahinda Rajapase stadium in Hambantota more so there were brand new stadia purposely built for the world cup. Further more no mention of crowds where Sri Lankans have been the most entertaining and fun loving Ranil Herath Kent

Posted by Saikos on (March 20, 2011, 8:10 GMT)

@Ketan:Its not a typo. He is talking about Srilankan Rupee

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 7:56 GMT)

Great article Sambit.... @Ketan-not a typo, one" Sril Lankan" Rupee is approximately equal to 50 US cents.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

@ketan it is 50 srilankan rupees!!! so the writer is correct!!!

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

yeah u r degrading INR value.... Rs 50 is like $1.20 update it buddy....

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 7:31 GMT)

Well written. How true is the fact that 2007 world cup had the best format but unfortunately ended up as a damp sqib. Well I have a suggestion for ICC regarding the format. Let 1st 6 teams automatically qualify for the world cup and bring in 6 others play off for 2 remaining spots. Qualifiers for 6 teams in two groups would mean 6 matches . 8 teams can play each other to determine the semifinalist (like 1992 ) that would be another 28 matches . 2 seminfinals + best of 3 finals : total matches : 39

Posted by SSRajan on (March 20, 2011, 7:15 GMT)

@Ketan : 50 sri Lankan Rupees, not Indian. Read the sentence and the context. Good article BTW.

Posted by Shan--IND on (March 20, 2011, 7:11 GMT)

Baby Ketan Rajawat...

Its 50 Sri Lankan Rupees(~45cents), he is talking abt prices in Sri Lanka...

brain... brain...

Posted by elmajico on (March 20, 2011, 7:10 GMT)

he meant sri lankan rupees..so Rs 50 is actually 50c

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 7:09 GMT)

"Finally, the World Cup told us a truth that we have known, and one those who govern game have mostly chosen to ignore: what the one-day game needs is not constant fiddling with or sexing up; it needs meaning and occasion."

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 7:04 GMT)

Now we head to the knockout rounds. Let's hope the games continue to be tight, and may Australia NOT win the World Cup. Four is enough, boys. Time for someone else to get their hands on the cup.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 6:11 GMT)

I guess what helped is low expectations everyone had written off the World Cup that the league phase was going to be boring and so on so the lesson is keep expectations low but there is still danger if india lose to australia still there could be potentially quite few natches without indian interest and the dreaded IPL which this year should not have taken place at all will again with help of co-opted news hungry media taking over

Posted by natmastak_so-called on (March 20, 2011, 6:00 GMT)

the last line very truly summed it up,"it needs meaning and occasion".well done sambit.

Posted by sifter132 on (March 20, 2011, 5:54 GMT)

"what the one-day game needs is not constant fiddling with or sexing up; it needs meaning and occasion." Hear, hear, brother. Excellent. 7 game ODI series are threatening world cricket more than powerplays or DRS is.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 4:29 GMT)

Perfectly summarizes the World Cup so far, and reflects my opinion about why this World Cup has been a super success!

On a slightly unrelated note, thanks Sambit for putting together this sentence: "For four manic overs against Pakistan, Ross Taylor became Sehwag, Viv Richards and Shahid Afridi bundled into one." !! :-)

Posted by Rakesh_Sharma on (March 20, 2011, 3:54 GMT)

"what the one-day game needs is not constant fiddling with or sexing up; it needs meaning and occasion." For this to happen there should not be frquent inconsequential ODI between India and Sri Lanka. This matches are only won by India in India and mostly by Sl in Sl. The results are very predictable on dead pitches when they are played and makes great averages for average players like Rainas, Kohlis etc etc.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2011, 3:38 GMT)

Just a typo: Rs 50 = $1 not 50 cents.

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Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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What if you had to narrow all of cricket greatness down to 50 names?

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