Truly entertaining stuff


Playing at home, Australia won the Cricket World Cup and it was no less than they deserved.

Coming into the six-week event they were the favourites, alongside co-hosts New Zealand, who turned out to be the team of the tournament, barring their demise in the final, which will go down as a one-sided anticlimax.

The tournament has its critics and some of the points raised are valid and should not be swept under the carpet by the International Cricket Council, the world governing body, who now find themselves at the centre of a tasty row, following the resignation of ICC president Mustafa Kamal this week.

For the most part, the World Cup was an event widely enjoyed, particularly for the swashbuckling style of the batsmen who drew the most cheers. It was they – the batsmen – who set all sorts of the records along the way.

Needless to say that when things like this happen, so too is there a team that will feel the pain (on the receiving end) – but that is how sport is.

Australia’s comfortable seven-wicket win in the final at Melbourne Cricket Ground was in stark contrast to the narrow one-wicket defeat they suffered at the hands of New Zealand’s Black Caps in the group stage at Eden Park.

That fixture, along with the Black Caps and South Africa semi-final, perhaps more than any other, epitomised the manner in which this World Cup was played.

There is no doubt that this World Cup will go down in the cricket annals as a batsman’s tournament, and for very good reason.

Not only were some of the grounds rather smallish and with quick out-fields, but the restrictions enforced for the power-plays meant that the batsmen could have a real go at it – and that is exactly what they did.

Brendon McCullum, the Kiwi captain, led from the front in this department – and his cheap dismissal in the final is what many say led to their downfall when they were on the cusp of winning the Cup for the first time.

Notwithstanding this, there were more than a few innings that will long be remember. Here, New Zealand’s Martin Guptill took the honours. His unbeaten 237 topped the individual scores, and with the West Indies’ Chris Gayle, was the only the player to post a double-ton at the World Cup.

He also finished with the most runs tallied – 547, to beat Kumar Sangakkara by just six.

Sangakkara, for many, was the stand out batsman of the tournament – and that included the likes of big-hitting AB De Villiers, the top-ranked batsman in the world.

Sangakkara’s announcement that he would retire after the event was a sad one, not only for Sri Lanka, but world cricket. His four consecutive centuries set a new mark for one-day internationals, never mind the World Cup. He also left with an average of 108.2 for the tournament.

There were also sizeable innings to note from Australian David Warner (178), South African skipper De Villiers (162*) and Sri Lankan Tillakaratne Dilshan (161*).

Similarly there were explosive knocks by a number of other players, drawn from almost all of the 14 teams in the competition – just a joy to watch.

New Zealand’s Tim Southee emerged with the best bowling figures at the World Cup – seven wickets for just 33 runs. That devastation was unleashed on England, a team who had previously reached the final three times and departed last month without making the quarterfinals.

The Kevin Pietersen saga also found its way into the World Cup and the man himself was in Australia and New Zealand working for a television broadcaster. One got the feeling, though, that if he played England might well have done better and maybe made the last eight – so poor were they.

Mitchell Starc won the Man of the Tournament award, his left-arm pace bowling making a telling contribution for the co-hosts en route to their triumph.

A sober note to make is that the young fella has now been sidelined with injury. Indeed, some reports have it that he will be out for several weeks before “being reassessed by Cricket Australia medical staff”.

Throughout the tournament there was no mention, or at least not as loudly as some of the other stuff going on (if there was any at all), of any dope tests being undertaken by the authorities.

One would have thought that on a stage which some say is the third biggest sporting event behind the FIFA football World Cup and the Olympic Games, drug test would have carried out on at least some of the players.

Of course, if the ICC see fit not to undertake these, then obviously nobody can enforce any such programme.

Even then, the World Cup was not with controversy, as much as some of the ICC and organisers would like us to believe.

Bangladesh vented their displeasure at being on the wrong end of some crucial calls from the umpires in their quarterfinal with India, which they went on to lose.

Zimbabwe were also left feeling robbed when the umpires failed rule in their favour in the case of a game-changing six not given when it was clearly there.

But there was still more to come and now the ICC has an issue that they should address without delay.

Kamal decision to relinquish his post as president of the ICC came after he was snubbed at the prize-giving ceremony after the final. And it followed a threat to disclose “mischievous things” going on within the ICC.

A Bangladeshi, Kamal said he quit after he was denied “his right” as ICC president to present the trophy to the winners, Australia.

Indian cricket chairman Narayanaswami Srinivasan undertook that job.

It left Kamal to retort: “I’m again requesting that these type of people should be away from cricket, otherwise cricket will be spoilt, cricket will not move forward.

“My earnest request to the ICC is to revisit those things. I’m sure people will find out why I have resigned and they will unearth the truth – who are these people, what are they doing and how they are running the ICC.”

Cricket’s recent history has been tainted by some untoward stuff and resolving this lot without delay would do the sport a world of good, least all the joys of the World Cup be lost in yet another scandal.

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