2 November 1998

Curtain falls amid high ICC hopes

By Syed Ashfaqul Haque

Curtain fell on the nine-day cricketing extravaganza last night with South Africa winning the Wills International Cup, dubbed the mini World Cup.

Amidst cheers and applause from over 40,000 crowd, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over the glittering cup to South African skipper Hansie Cronje following a brief musical and dance session after the match.

"It's a great relief for us that the tournament ends with great success, not only in terms of hosting the event, but also for the cricket-loving nation's participation in everything of the carnival," said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, the cricket supremo of the country, with a sigh of relief.

Bangladesh will be remembered for years in the history of the game of glorious uncertainty as the successful host of the first ever one-day championship outside the World Cup, featuring all the nine Test-playing nations.

And the stalwarts of the International Cricket Council (ICC), the organisers of the mega event, will leave Dhaka with a happy note and high hopes for the prospect of their ambitious plan to globalise the game.

The world cricket's ruling body took up the unique plan of hosting a 10-day spill-thriller, theme of which was "One World, One Game", in an emerging cricketing nation to raise funds for the development of the game internationally.

The ICC has planned to spend all the earnings from the meet for the growth of cricket in the associate-member nations.

It was one of the tallest orders for Bangladesh to make a meet of this magnitude a success. Cynics of the world cricket became more sceptical about the future of the tourney as Bangladesh, infamous for its political instability, had to go through one of the biggest natural disasters of the century just days before the gala event started on October 24.

Besides, in addition to the prolonged flooding, rain gods also threatened to spoil the show, much to the anxiety of the hosts, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).

It took even an ominous turn when the opposition political parties called for back-to-back hartals ahead of the tournament.

But politics took a back seat once the Wills carnival got underway. And in the end, the Dhaka showpiece became a sold-out tournament and the unprecedented enthusiasm and response of the spectators magnified the success of it.

All the visitors, experts and cricketers did not hesitate to extend kudos to the Bangladesh crowd, which they considered as the main criterion for flourishing the game in a country aspiring for Test status.

"Bangladesh people are well known for their hospitality. The BCB and the people here once again proved it," said Jagmohan Dalmiya, the president of ICC, to the newsmen.

"The successful holding of the event will bring many a good for Bangladesh cricket in future," the cricket chief said.

WorldTel commentary team comprising the greats like Geoff Boycott, Michael Holding, Tony Greig, Ravi Shastri, Barry Richards and Martin Crowe were also in full for the appreciative and very knowledgeable cricket fans of Bangladesh.

ICC chief executive David Richards was probably the happiest of the lot. "Don't talk about other things. Let's talk about success. It's outstanding, I mean, an outstanding tournament."

Source :: The Bangladesh Daily Star (http://www.dailystarnews.com)