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April 21, 2007
"The prospects of the semi-finals are mouth-watering but less so is the criticism of the tournament, some of which has been over the top, to put it mildly," said Speed. "No-one ever pretended this World Cup would be a straightforward event to stage. There have been some negatives, yes, but there have also been plenty of positives and they surely outweigh the negatives to a significant degree."
The main areas of attack on the organisation have been the duration - by the time next Saturday's final is over it will have been running for 47 days - the cost of tickets and the poor attendances.
Speed admitted that the latter was "a disappointment". He added: "It would have been great if every one of the stadia had been full for every match. Ticket pricing may have been an issue, although we would maintain that $US25 for a ticket for the group matches is a fair price for a global event. The ticket prices were set by the local organisers and that has to be right. We would not presume to dictate policy to those who know the local market far better than we do. All we asked was that more seats be made available at the bottom end of the ticketing range and that has happened during the Super Eight matches.
"Staging it in the region, over nine separate countries, has been a huge logistical challenge. However, it is a challenge to which many people, paid and unpaid have risen and can all be proud of what has been achieved.
"The format was criticised, it has cost the tournament in terms of supporters (India and Pakistan going out in the first round) but it has also shown that cricket does exist outside the top eight sides," he said. "To those people who have said the tournament has been too long it is worth pointing out that there are three fewer matches this time when compared to the event in southern Africa four years ago, despite the fact we had an additional two teams taking part.
"The fact is that the winning team will play 11 matches in those 47 days which, we feel, provides a fair balance between practice, play and rest for the teams. Compare that to the recent tri-series in Australia where the two sides that reached the finals played 10 matches in 32 days. Or England's upcoming Test and ODI series against India that starts in July and involves 22 days of action - three Tests and seven ODIs - in 52 days."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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