Wake me when the World Cup gets interesting
There are many ways to describe the gluttony that comes with lopsided result after lopsided result at the ICC World Cup. Pages upon pages around the world are being cranked out as we speak, by those cynical types who don’t quite see the romance in Sri Lanka annihilating Canada, or New Zealand treating the Kenyans like Whangarei park cricketers.
Tonight, just to make things really interesting, England takes on The Netherlands. So here’s the shortest summation of the tournament you’re likely to read. It needs just six words. Ready? Here goes.
I’m thinking of watching Ben Elton.
And this is cricket’s showpiece.
The World Cup is the sport’s most visible event. Fittingly it’s also its most enduring example of greed and corporate largesse. The sad thing is it doesn’t have to be this way.
In order to squeeze every possible drop of the TV rights lemon, the ICC packs the tournament with nations that wouldn’t know a cricket bat from a lightsaber. More games equal more dollars.
Sure, it’s common knowledge the ICC cares only for the mighty buck, however this highly paid and pampered horde can’t even summon the subtlety or dynamism to create a cash cow which captures the imagination, even briefly.
Think of the possibilities. We could have an eight team elite-only tournament where each team plays the other once. Or Twice. The result would be plenty of games, lots of quality. Have a system where only the top four teams make it to the next stage. The cut and thrust of must-win preliminary matches would be intoxicating.
What about a best-of three final? Best-of-three semis? Translation: the potential is endless. There are many ways to skin a cat, yet the ICC chooses to use a machete.
Thankfully one atrocity has been removed from previous tournaments - the ‘Super’ stage. Attempting to explain that mathematical maze would require a thesis by the main character from Good Will Hunting, but here’s a hint: If you’re inventing a system which hasn’t been used in centuries of organised sport, chances are there’s a good reason it hasn’t been used.
So the ICC gets rid of it. Comes up with another system. Somehow it’s worse.
The knock out quarter final format is simple enough to follow, but that means eight teams progress to the next stage. Take out Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the other wretched teams and what do we have left to fill those eight places? Eight bona-fide cricket nations.
So here’s the reality: To make the next stage, Australia’s only meaningful games are against Canada, Kenya , as well as the earlier mauling of Zimbabwe. That’s it. Win those and they’re through. The other matches simply won’t matter.
Four weeks and forty-two meaningless games. Just to reach the inevitable. Are you subscribing to Foxtel yet?
The World Cup is also known as the shrine of cricket corruption. Fifteen years ago Pakistan’s loss to Kenya was Cricket’s greatest Cinderella story. At least for the few hours before the rumours sprawled. Then the 1999 final between Pakistan and Australia - the final for heaven sakes - was shrouded in a cloud of incompetence and suspicion.
However the authorities have come up with a way to end the scourge. Stop it dead in its tracks. It’s banning the use of Twitter during matches.
Perhaps this columnist is sceptical. Perhaps stopping Twitter really will solve the problem. A better authority could probably give a more educated view. Perhaps disgraced match-fixer Pakistan captain Salman Butt can share his opinion on the subject when he’s in the commentary box.
And this is cricket’s showpiece.
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