Cricket: When you believe your own spin

By Steve Deane

Empty stands, expensive tickets, dull matches, a "sterile" atmosphere and the unexplained death of a coach in his hotel room.

Many would argue the 47-day cricket World Cup in the Caribbean was a disaster, but former ICC president Ehsan Mani yesterday labelled the tournament a tremendous success.

The mysterious demise in his Jamaican hotel room of Pakistan coach Woolmer cast a major shadow over the tournament's security measures.

But Mani tells Pitch, the official newsletter of the World Cup organising committee: "I have had the privilege of being involved in the last four World Cups. The organisation of CWC 2007 was the best I have seen."

The newsletter described the March 11 Jamaican opening ceremony as "dazzling" and "wonderful" before praising the much-criticised atmosphere in the stands as a "cricket fiesta".

But as West Indies cricket great Viv Richards said during the tournament, Caribbean fans are "carnival people".

"We like to be heard and we like to have fun. Nobody addressed that fully," he said.

"Some of those islands' economies are not all that great and when you ask people to pay $US80 ($110) for one day to watch cricket, it's too much.

Someone made a huge, huge mistake."

Five weeks ago World Cup organisers had egg all over their faces as the drawn-out, tedious tournament ended in farcical circumstances with Australia's win in Barbados.

Australia's victory over Sri Lanka in near-darkness on April 28, after being called back on to the ground following confusion among match officials over whether the game had been completed, was just one of many low points in the tournament, which ICC chief Malcolm Speed eventually admitted was too long.

The dominance of Ricky Ponting's side and the poor performances of West Indies, India and Pakistan didn't help.

A ridiculous decision preventing fans from bringing their musical conch shells into matches without written permission also helped kill the atmosphere of the event. The conch-shell rule was relaxed mid-tournament.

But Pitch editor Michelle Gibson countered today: "The West Indies has shown the world what we are capable of. We proved that if we apply the right strategy and team, anything is possible."

* Ponting will be hoping his face is now a familiar one to event staff.

He was refused entry to his own press conference to promote a group A match in St Kitts in March, before a team official stepped in to gently point out Ponting's identity.


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