Hving said this before, I have to say it again: this World Cup will be remembered for too many reasons other than cricket. Too steep ticket prices, under-trained yet overbearing security personnel, and all the strain of constant flying and associated baggage problems have made this World Cup sadly forgettable in many ways. The ICC and the local organisers have been blaming each other, but the tournament has been a disappointment primarily for the Caribbean people compounded by the hosts’ exit following a string of inadequate performances.
The West Indies had nine days off before the game against South Africa, supposedly meant to give them some rest and relaxation. In reality, they were sitting around twiddling their thumbs. The scheduling glitches of this tournament are a lesson for India, come 2011. Players and everyone else associated with the game like it slick and quick.
Against South Africa, as a result of the enforced break, the West Indies looked a disgruntled unit, the players clearly out of step with each other.
The Caribbean fans have a right to feel cheated, but their team just has not performed to potential. Now, it seems only a matter of time before Brian Lara and Bennett King are relieved of captaincy and coaching duties respectively. Lara may go on the forthcoming tour of England, but probably not as captain. He must be offered an exit strategy that will save face for all concerned, because the team can do without further damage to morale on the England tour.
Speaking of England, Bangladesh’s win against South Africa had opened the door for the English in the World Cup, but Australia snuffed that out soon enough. On current form, the Aussies are still top dogs, though South Africa have proved a point or two with its emphatic win against the West Indies. A.B. de Villiers in particular made up for his recent lacklustre run with interest.
The sign of a good team is its ability to bounce back after a debacle, and the loss to Bangladesh was certainly one. Having got all the basics wrong against a team that it should have slaughtered, South Africa were itching to get back in the reckoning. While it has achieved that purpose, I would still think the team management must be thinking whether the right horses have been picked for the courses on offer.
Watching the Bangladesh game, it was obvious that South Africa had misread the conditions completely and made some crucial selection errors; allowing five seamers to operate on a low, slow pitch. Players like Boeta Dippenaar Man of the Series on the team’s last tour of the West Indies Johan van der Wath and Paul Harris, all cooling their heels at home, will have to wonder whether they wouldn’t have brought the much-needed elements of flexibility and variety into the South African bowling.
On the other hand, Graeme Smith and Co. will be hoping that the Bangladesh encounter remains their only bad day in this tournament.