More of the same from ICC

Some say the 2007 World Cup final in Barbados is still going on - in the darkness, in the rain, for eternity. It’s a joke among the locals, still triggering heady laughter while ‘liming’ (hanging out), and it has reared its head again because the World Cup is back here for the first time since, and the International Cricket Council is still as inept now as they were then.
Last Updated : 29 June 2024, 17:29 IST

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Bengaluru: Some say the 2007 World Cup final in Barbados is still going on - in the darkness, in the rain, for eternity. 

It’s a joke among the locals, still triggering heady laughter while ‘liming’ (hanging out), and it has reared its head again because the World Cup is back here for the first time since, and the International Cricket Council is still as inept now as they were then. 

People in the Caribbean have a penchant for quips, especially against cricket administrators, and the wisecrack mentioned above is about the farcical final between Australia and Sri Lanka on April 28, 2007. 

It ‘ended’ in complete darkness with match officials, experienced ones at that, forgetting the playing conditions, ones which they came up with. 

On-field umpires Aleem Dar and Steve Bucknor apologised for the farce. The International Cricket Council did so too. Well, kind of. 

Just as Malcolm Speed, the then president, completed his pseudo-apology, which included him throwing third umpire Rudi Koertzen under the bus, the ICC hoarding behind him came unstuck from the wall and almost struck him. 

That moment came soon after Speed announced that the World Cup was a ‘success’. It was as poetic as it was a grim reminder of how poorly that event was run. 

While we don’t wish any hoardings to come undone anytime soon, the ICC has shown that they don’t care much for learning. 

Their inflated egos and confused, conflicting philosophies allow them to believe that a cookie-cutter approach can be used to run mega events all over the world, and it will be fine. 

The proof is in the pudding, and this is right up there as one of the most poorly organised World Cups of all time.

While they technically announced the groups and their fixtures on June 5, there was still some tweaking expected, meaning those travelling would have to watch flight rates spike as the ICC took their time with finalising details. 

That in and of itself was a concern because getting to the United States of America was not an easy proposition because of the stringent visa formalities. In fact, the latest appointments available were for the following year! 

It was made easier for travelling journalists with some intervention from the ICC, but an average Indian fan looking to travel to the US, if they didn’t have a visa already, were not going to make it.

Then there was that stadium in Long Island. It was a sight to behold, sure, but the facilities were pedestrian, even Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar was reduced to using portable restrooms along with the general public.

While those factors are still somewhat ignorable, the fact that those drop-in pitches were a hazard to batters was not. It didn’t help either that the pitches at the practice facility at Cantiague Park were none better. 

Miami came and went because no one had informed the ICC that you can’t play cricket in a storm, and thus, the matches there, save for one, were washed out. 

It was then time for India to travel to the Caribbean for the Super Eights stage… during the wettest time of the year. Once again, that wasn’t even the biggest issue.

The Caribbean is a tough place to travel in general because of the limited flight options. Typically, say a flight from Barbados to Guyana on claustrophobic propeller aircraft will run you about $300, but since the airliners wanted to cash in, prices doubled almost overnight. 

Even then limited flight options meant if you had not booked it months in advance, you’d probably have to endure a 36-hour flight from Barbados to Toronto and then to Guyana (yeah, that was an actual option).  

Say you’re an Indian fan looking to follow the team then this was your itinerary in the Caribbean: Barbados, Antigua, St Lucia, Guyana and back to Barbados for the final. 

The problem wasn’t just the flight rates or the long travel time, though. The issue was also that India were playing on June 20 (Bridgetown), June 22 (North Sound), June 24 (Gros Islet), June 27 (Providence) and June 29 (Bridgetown). 

That quick turnaround time dissuaded many fans from travelling. Those who had spent a handsome chunk on buying match tickets were scurrying to resell it to those who could travel in the end, and even then people didn’t want it.  

For instance, if you did find a way to get to Guyana from St Lucia for the semifinal, there was no guarantee that you would fly back in time to Barbados for the final because there were hardly any tickets available, and the available ones, involved a journey so long that you’d probably miss the final.

Only at the last minute did the ICC set up a chartered flight for the media from Guyana to Barbados. In fact, a lot of Indian journalists who had flown halfway around the world couldn’t make it to most of these Super Eights venues so they made Barbados their home.  

The ICC’s plan to mitigate some of the backlash was to set up a hub in Barbados so those who couldn’t make it to the venues could watch the match on a screen and catch the press conferences in a large room while buying coffee and food at a premium. 

When you feel exasperated in a land as magical as this one, surely something is wrong. Obviously, the ICC is going to gloat about the money they made, the tourism they built and all the viewership they had in the end, and they will be right about all of those things, but none of that means people necessarily had a good time watching or writing about this World Cup. 

Also, when you have teams from the sub-continent playing in the daytime because you want to target the prime-time audience in the sub-continent, you leave the locals out of it. The Indian diaspora in America made it worthwhile, but the Caribbean saw empty seats day after day. You wouldn’t want to bake in this mid-day sun, not even for the Indian team. 

Moreover, spectators were not allowed to carry even a bottle of water, let alone musical instruments to give the space that Calypso vibe. You had a DJ putting out some solid numbers, but that hardly matched Caribbean flavour. Some fans were even asked to turn their garments inside out if they carried offending logos. In failing to do so, they were taken away from the premises. 

This is not the Caribbean we have all known, heard about and enjoyed. 

‘Liming’ with the locals you can see they’re not happy about what is happening, but they’re glad that this World Cup will at least end. 

Published 29 June 2024, 17:29 IST

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