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Get real, World Cup is a flop without India

india Updated: Mar 10, 2011 13:16 IST
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Asked about the ticketing mess, Haroon Lorgat dutifully recited the politically correct spiel about fans, but then could not resist the temptation of patting himself.

Commenting on the health of world cricket, the ICC chief announced that the 50-over game is far from dead --- suggesting that the frenzy for tickets is evidence that the World Cup, and cricket, remain popular.

A sober assessment of the World Cup presents a picture starkly different from what Lorgat would have us believe. The tournament, at least till now, is only about India, everything else is peripheral. Fans are queuing up (and getting lathi-charged), sponsors are investing serious money and the media is going crazy because of Indian cricket. Without India, the World Cup is a dud, a flop film which has no takers.

The commercial appeal rests solely on their fortunes, remove India from the equation and the tournament could crash in less time than it takes Harbhajan Singh to bowl an over. As things stand, all of India wants to see a triumphant MS Dhoni in Mumbai a month from now.

This extraordinary hope and hype seems to be working for the present. India's two top stars --- Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar --- have scored commanding hundreds, and despite the bowling stutters (against Bangladesh and England) the feeling is that all is well.

But India's cricket muscle cannot hide the fragile nature of the ICC and World Cup. The need to spread the game is an admirable objective but if this translates into quality being compromised, the result is a big zero. New Zealand beat Kenya in less than 10 overs, and in other matches the level of play was no better than a DDCA 'B' Division contest.

Ireland did stun England but the truth is Zimbabwe, a full ICC member, can't match up to other Test teams. What is worse, the matches featuring unfancied teams lack intensity and hold little interest for fans. For instance, standards touched such a low that Canada could not compete with Zimbabwe and were thrashed by a massive margin.

So, forget the larger picture about cricket and its future --- just sit back and celebrate the magic of Indian cricket.

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