Wake me up when the World Cup is over

The World Cup cricket tournament began on May 30 and will end on July 14. By that time, even the most ardent fan would have had enough and will be wishing that it gets over, not matter who wins. The International Cricket Council has turned what was once a short, enjoyable cricket festival into a boring tournament which is a pain in the nether regions.

Twenty-seven matches have been gone through, and four have already been washed out, giving the teams involved a singular disadvantage. No extra days can be factored in to play such washed out games, else the tournament would only end when Christmas comes around. And there are another 18 matches to go.

There have been no close games, with the closest winning margin being 14 runs, there has been plenty of mediocre cricket and one match seems to blend into the next. The whole fun element of the tournament seems to have disappeared; it now seems like a grind where the team which can survive to the end will win.

The first tournament in 1975 ran for just a fortnight, but it produced cricket of a very high quality and the final was a great game, featuring one of the better one-day centuries in the limited overs game, and the two top teams came to the final. It was a deserved win for the West Indies and the runners-up, Australia, again, deserved their spot.

But with 10 countries in the fray this time and every team supposed to play the other, it is a mess this time around. It has been this way ever since the ICC decided to expand the tournament in order to promote the game. That promotion hasn’t been much in evidence but now the charade drags on.

With teams like Afghanistan in the fray, there are bound to be blowouts. Bangladesh hasn’t done much in world cricket either, though it has been around for some time, having been granted full ICC membership in 2000.

The main factor that the ICC refuses to take into account is that quality and quantity cannot exist together. Players are expected to wield the willow or the ball right through the year with very limited rest. To then demand that every team play nine games before the semi-finals and final is a little too much. By the end, everyone will be just wishing to get it over and done with – and players in that frame of mind rarely show their best form.

It would be good if the showpiece of world cricket was a high-quality event. But given the wear and tear on players and the desire of the ICC to play the tournament over six weeks, that seems to be far too much to expect.

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