Cricket Lovers are waiting, with less than 90 days to go for the ICC World Cup 2011 and the buzz has already started to build up. The first match is scheduled for 19th Feb. ’11 between co hosts India & Bangladesh at Mirpur and with it the battle for the Biggest Trophy in the World begins. Inspite of all the build up for THE ASHES and the Indian Tour of South Africa discussions regarding the World Cup has started doing the round at Tea Stalls, Coffee Shops, Lunch Tables, Water Coolers and everywhere else. From the 16 team format of last World Cup this edition will feature 14 teams.
World Cup 2007 in West Indies had more low points than high points, individual performance of Glenn Mcgrath, Mathew Hayden, M Muralitharan, Mahila Jayawardene and as a whole Australian team. Australian team was two time defending champion at the start of World Cup ’07 and they continued their dominance and won the World Cup ’07 also without losing a single match. In fact Australia has an enviable record of 29 consecutive victories in the World Cup with their last defeat coming against Pakistan played at Headingley on 23rd May 1999.
World Cup ’07 was also criticised for its format with Super Eight stage featuring teams like Bangladesh and Ireland at the expense of India & Pakistan, lacking the local caribbean flavour as ICC was criticized for keeping the ticket prices way too high resulting in low crowds in grounds for initial matches. Due to security concerns the crowds were restricted to take their Musical instruments, signs, etc. in the ground though these restrictions were eased in the later part of the tournament which helped get in more crowds. The biggest being the death of Bob Woolmer, coach of Pakistan team, a day after Pakistan loss to Ireland. Refuting the initial theories the probe conducted by Jamaican police concluded that he dies of Natural causes. The last of the controversy was for the final match where the Officials made Sri Lanka batsmen bat for 3 overs in near darkness after Australia team celebrated after being declared the winners by the officials.
World cup in Sub-continent ensures one things, ie, Packed Houses because in this part of world there is no dearth of Cricket lovers. The New Format, with League matches ensuring each team gets to play at least 6 matches before getting eliminated in league stage itself and thereafter knockout punches of Quarter final, Semi final and then the Big Final will ensure that interest of cricket lovers is kept alive throughout the 49 matches being played between 19th Feb. ’11 to 2nd Apr. ’11.
This World Cup will be without its Superstars of 2007 edition. Glenn Mcgrath playing in his last tournament signed off in style by winning the Man of the Series Award, Mathew Hayden, highest scorer of WC ’07 and Adam Gilchrist, Man of the Final, WC ’07. And then there are players like Sachin Tendulkar who in twilight of his career would like to conquer the Final Frontier and that too on his Home ground.
Only time will tell whether Australia will continue its dominance of the World Cup or the God of Cricket achieves his Final Frontier or some other team takes away the most coveted prize in the World of Cricket. Cricket is great Game of Uncertainty and we will have to wait till 2nd April ’11 to see who becomes the King of One Day Cricket.