World Cup No. 8

Minor teams Bermuda, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Kenya, Scotland

Format
The lessons of 1999 and 2003 were learned, and so the Super Eights qualified from four groups of four. However, India and Pakistan unexpectedly failed to go past the first round, with Bangladesh and Ireland taking their places. The only points carried forward were the ones earned against the other qualifiers from the same group, which on paper gave the second round some meaning.

Innovations
This was the first World Cup to feature Powerplays.

Early running
Pakistan were eliminated in their second game, after they lost to Ireland by three wickets. That result was entirely overshadowed by the death of Pakistan's coach, Bob Woolmer, hours later. India, meanwhile, were beaten by Bangladesh and then sent packing by Sri Lanka. New Zealand and England went through from Group C - England courtesy wins over Canada and Kenya - while Australia and South Africa barely broke a sweat in a group containing Scotland and the Netherlands.

Super Eights
Bangladesh's and Ireland's qualification meant that, in reality, the semi-finals were between four of six, and with England and the hosts looking all at sea, the excitement was minimal. Of 24 games only three were remotely tense; the best being the second and the last, South Africa v Sri Lanka and a meaningless clash between England and West Indies that was notable only in it being Brian Lara's last game.

The semis
Sri Lanka beat New Zealand by 81 runs, thanks to Mahela Jayawardene and the fact that New Zealand were always well behind the clock. Australia thrashed South Africa, who once again choked, crashing to 27 for 5 before limping to 149.

The final
The best two sides made the final, but the scenes at the end of the match summed up the shambles the tournament had become. Adam Gilchrist thumped 149 off 104 balls and Australia scored 281 for 4 in 38 overs (after a rain delay). Sri Lanka chased gamely, and while Kumar Sangakkara and Sanath Jayasuriya were in - they added 116 - they were in with a shout. But both fell in quick succession and then farce descended in the gloom. The umpires left the field for bad light as Australia celebrated, but then they brought the players back on. By the end nobody could see what was happening in the middle.

Controversies
Bob Woolmer was found unconscious on the floor of his hotel room a day after Pakistan's early exit from the tournament, and was pronounced dead in a Jamaica hospital soon after. The pall of gloom that swept the tournament came with an assortment of conspiracy theories involving unrest within the team, match-fixing, and murder. Investigations continued through the World Cup before it was reported to be a death due to natural causes.

The tournament was also marred by poor turnouts as the organisers charged steep rates for entry and forbade spectators from bringing in musical instruments. Too many games, and the presence of too many weak teams in the Super Eights, contributed to dull cricket all the way. The final ended in darkness, with the umpires and match referee showing a poor grasp of the rules.