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Too long, too expensive, too dull

WC was too long, expensive, dull and even the ICC admits that this particular marathon leaves everybody exhausted.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2007 10:39 IST

It should have been a blockbuster which packed in the crowds and attracted rave reviews.

But, for many, the 2007 World Cup was too long, too expensive, too dull and eventually even the International Cricket Council was forced to admit that this particular marathon had left everybody exhausted.

"We listen to criticism, and there has been a lot of it from people saying it's been too long - so we'll look to make it shorter," said ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed.

"We'll seek to reduce this 47-day World Cup by seven or 10 days, and hopefully we'll get it down to somewhere between five and six weeks next time."

Whether or not the TV moguls will be happy with that arrangement remains to be seen especially with the 2011 edition to be staged in the sub-continent, the financial engine of the international game.

The ninth World Cup, the first to be held in the Caribbean, started welcoming the 16 teams in the last week of February; two months on, Australia and Sri Lanka were the two left standing, preparing for Saturday's final.

But regardless of who emerges the winner at Kensington Oval, what will the 2007 tournament be remembered for?

Tragically, it will be forever associated with room 374 on the 12th floor of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston where Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was murdered, the morning after the 1992 champions had been humiliated by Ireland.

The defeat sent Pakistan spinning out of the World Cup and the game of cricket, once a metaphor for all things decent in sport, into a serious bout of introspection amidst dark whispers of the involvement of match-fixing mafias in what became the biggest murder investigation in Jamaican history.

The search for Woolmer's killers is still ongoing while there's been no end to the fevered speculation as to a motive.

Mark Shields, the man leading the hunt and who briefly became probably the most photographed policeman in the world, hit out at "wild" rumours which continue to surround the case, saying they were "causing a lot of distress" to Woolmer's family.

"The priority is to see the truth," said Shields.

Woolmer's body was on the way back to his family in Cape Town on Friday, six weeks after the slaying.

In the seven-week tournament, sparsely-attended games were a constant bewildering sight as locals, priced out of the market, voted with their feet.

The early exit of Pakistan and India, traditional magnets for battalions of fans, only added to the eerie quiet.

Things improved when organisers dropped their restrictions on musical instruments being brought into the grounds and introduced a right to re-entry.

Fans, however, argued that the measures were too little, too late.

England's Barmy Army hit out at the costs of travel and accommodation, with many Caribbean hotels tripling rates.
English fans paid 5,000 pounds (7,300 euros) for a 10-day stay.

"It's pretty expensive for people and that has been prohibitive to the younger fans," said Barmy Army spokesman Paul Burham.

Steve Laffey, of Australia's Fanatics supporters' group, said fans were disappointed with the atmosphere at matches.

"We expected it to be a lot more lively, calypso cricket, the atmosphere usually associated with cricket in the Caribbean," he said.

It wasn't all gloom in the sunshine and there were some magical moments.

Inzamam-ul-Haq and Brian Lara's tearful farewells will live long in the memory as will the evergreen talents of the likes of Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya.

With his bleached-blond hair and eyebrow ring, Lasith Malinga was a revelation with his slingy, round-arm action and his historic four wickets in four balls which almost added another dent to South Africa's brittle confidence.

Matthew Hayden, meanwhile, crowned his comeback from the one-day wilderness by smashing virtually every attack to the four corners of the Caribbean, a performance which brought him the world record for the fastest ever century.

And then there was Ireland and their sensational win over Pakistan which proved, if only temporarily, that minnows, at least some of them, did belong in the World Cup.

But their good work was undone by the embarrassing maulings handed out to Bermuda, Scotland and the Netherlands.

Bangladesh's young team made India look like..well, Bangladesh...with a win that sent Rahul Dravid's men home after the first round.

Many of that Bangladesh team will only be in their mid-20s by the time the next World Cup rolls around.

So what about a world title for the Tigers on home turf? Now that would be worth turning up for.