For a long time, I was actually a defender of this World Cup. Despite the horrific murder of Bob Woolmer, I felt the World Cup had been fairly entertaining for the first month or so. To me, it had some life jolted into it when India and Pakistan were knocked out and Ireland and Bangladesh not only made it to the Super 8 but also actually won games against quality opposition - including a Bangladeshi win against one of the semi-finalists. I think that at this World Cup, Bangladesh truly arrived and are going to do what Sri Lanka did 2-3 decades ago. I very much look forward to them joining the current top eight and doing what Zimbabwe should've, could've, and would've done if it weren't for Mugabe destroying the team.
However, the tournament just dragged on far too long. The scheduling was absolutely dire, with inordinately long gaps - the Black Caps at one point had no game for six days. My interest began to waver, even when New Zealand was still in the hunt. The only truly great game was England vs the West Indies, and that was played after it ceased to have any consequence for the tournament as a whole and the result was a matter of pride only! Australia, despite their abject failures in their two series' earlier this year, did what they always do and rose to the occasion and became the standard bearers of predictability. Following closely in their wake was South Africa, pulling its traditional choking act while Graeme Smith naively - idiotically - professed to have little concern for the pivotal net run rate statistic. And neck-and-neck with South Africa in the predictability stakes were my not-so-beloved Black Caps, who YET AGAIN failed to get beyond the semi-finals despite having some damn good cricketers. We just faded at the end; perhaps a consequence of an overly long tournament, or just the tradition of the Black Caps' lack of consistency and our long-running curse. It would be nice to actually reach the final for once. We've made the semis at more than half of the Cricket World Cups held, but never once even reached the final, let alone won the thing. I think if we make the final in 2011, it will be the equivalent of winning for me.
And oh goodness, the final. Quite possibly the most embarrassing moment in cricket this side of the infamous under-arm delivery. What were they thinking? Deciding the final based on the Duckworth-Lewis method is bad enough, but sending the players out to bat in darkness? It was like a shambolic high school everybody-gets-a-medal tournament. Heads really should roll at the highest levels of the ICC, but they won't. I at least hope the early departures of India and Pakistan woke them up a wee bit to the reality that the Cricket World Cup is, first and foremost, about cricket rather than cash. And I hope the boos of the assembled crowd for the ICC elite spoke volumes.
I am also still coming to terms with Stephen Fleming resigning the captaincy of the New Zealand one day team. Although I have occasionally called for him to consider retirement in recent times, this World Cup really convinced me that he is one of the best captains cricket has ever seen and that he should stick around. He has one of the finest tactical minds in cricket; the way he managed the net run rate was simply a work of brilliance. The man knew what he was doing, and I wish the team could have given him a World Cup.
Also, farewell to Glenn McGrath. For years, he has been one of the few Australian cricketers who I genuinely like and admire. I think he is second only to Shane Bond as the greatest paceman of the last decade, and I am going to miss him a lot. I can't stand most of the current crop of Australian cricketers. Matty Hayden and Andrew Symonds are probably the only two I can really tolerate. Ricky Ponting in particular should just piss off. I hate that that smarmy bastard just got another trophy. He's the George Bush of cricket as far as I'm concerned - smarmy and likes to launch blitzes on unsuspecting countries.
Anyway, that's my thoughts on the tournament. As much as I was looking forward to it, I ultimately feel let down. Let's hope for much better in 2011.