By Keith Miller
Outside of the victorious Australian side, the 2007 World Cup will never be remembered for its scintillating cricket. The bizarre and tragic death of Bob Woolmer (and the bizarre and tragic investigation that followed) overshadowed a large portion of the tournament.
However, it is mainly remembered for its infamously interminable length. Yet the criticism only got worse when the final was played out in farcical conditions.
Firstly, play was suspended due to bad light – a situation that should have been so ridiculously easily avoidable in the first place. But to make matters worse, the scoreboard and ground announcements identified that Australia had won the game. Cue the celebrations.
Then the umpires (inaccurately as it happens) decided that play was actually only suspended, and three overs needed to be completed for a result to occur. Halt celebrations.
After a gentleman’s agreement between the captains, the Sri Lankan batsmen returned to the crease, the Australians bowled their spinners, and the game ended in almost total darkness. The upshot was that the officials involved (umpires Steve Bucknor and Aleem Dar, reserve umpires Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden, and match referee Jeff Crowe) were all suspended from the 2007 Twenty20 World Champs.
It was a fitting end to a public relations disaster.
Whilst that was bad enough, the lead up to the final was certainly no better. Beforehand, all the talk was about how the World Cup will be subjected to a magnificent Caribbean flavour. There’d be singing, there’s be dancing, there’d be laughter, and there’s be good times ahead for everyone in attendance.
Which was bugger all.
Ticket prices were inflated so badly that they became completely out of reach for the general West Indian public. The grounds at times were almost empty, and the much anticipated atmosphere was non-existent.
But it wasn’t just the prices. Got a can of Coke on you? Tip it out pal – we’re Pepsi through and through here. What’s that logo on your shirt? Sorry – it clashes with one of our sponsors. Cover it up, take it off and turn it inside out, or go home.
The ICC took a little trip down Overkill Road, and completely strangled the tournament of the spontaneity and atmosphere they were so heavily reliant on. Sir Viv Richards was vocal in his thoughts. “Something is seriously missing. We have too many restrictions. Someone seems to have said, ‘we want you to stop shouting’. I say, ‘tough’.”
There were even crackdowns on singing, dancing and music. In the West Indies. Go figure.
Peanut sellers who had been at grounds for donkeys’ years were now being charged for the privilege, rendering their income negligible at best. Even the volunteers were unimpressed
The greed of the ICC had effectively killed its own party.
Just to demonstrate how far the ICC had their heads buried up their own collective arses, an email prior to the tournament contained the following press release:
“The official name of the tournament is the ‘ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007’. The following versions of the Event name are also acceptable: ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 (preferred use) ICC Cricket World Cup ICC CWC 2007 (in prose or paragraph context only) CWC 2007 (in prose or paragraph context only).”
Ummm…..would it be ok if we call it the World Cup?
The ICC had cocked up badly – a fact that wasn’t lost on the crowd at the final, who roundly booed their delegates Malcolm Speed and Percy Sonn at the after match presentation.
Speed later made an apology as a result of the final fiasco. It was little comfort, particularly when he then decided to make statements suggesting how great it was to have cricket in the headlines.
Unfortunately for both Malcolm Speed and ICC, the large majority of the headlines were both far from positive, and completely accurate in their assessments.