Tony Becca, FROM THE BOUNDARY
CHRISTOPHER DEHRING promised the world not only a World Cup to remember but also the best World Cup ever.
Now that it is over, it is time to put it under the microscope, to examine it, and to decide if indeed it was something worth remembering and if it was really the best of all time.
As the biggest sports event ever to be staged in the West Indies - and definitely so in terms of television audience and the number of visitors in attendance it was, obviously, worth remembering.
As an experience, however the final, but for the closing moments of the match, was also worth remembering, it was not the best, and it had nothing to do with the unfortunate death of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer.
It was not the best because the locals stayed away and they stayed away because of a few blunders.
As far as West Indians were concerned, one blunder was the high cost of attending the games.
The cost, up to US$300 to see the final, was many times the cost of a ticket to see the 1999 tournament in England, where the best seat for the final was 60 pounds sterling, and the 2003 tournament in South Africa where the best seat for the final was US$40.
The price of admission, ranging from US$15 to see a team like Canada play one like Kenya to US$100 to see one like West Indies play one like Pakistan in the first round, from US$25 to US$100 to see any match in the Super Eight round, from US$50 to US$130 to see any match in the semi-finals, and from US$100 to US$300 to see the final was like a million dollars to many people in the region.
And moreso in countries like Jamaica and Guyana where, for some people, a day at the cricket in the cheapest seats was equal to a week or two's wages.
Marketed toward foreigners
Another blunder was that, for whatever reason or reasons, maybe because of the feeling that there was much to be gained from having visitors in the region, maybe because of the early talk of more than 100,000 visitors coming to the region, and maybe because of the high cost of a ticket, the tournament was marketed more to foreigners than to locals.
In other words, the marketing was such, and the price among other things was such that a vast number of West Indians did not feel a part of the event.
Still another reason for the failure of the tournament as an experience was the tight security which prevented the local fans from playing music, beating pan and in general from enjoying themselves.
Because the local people could not enjoy themselves, many stayed away, because of that, the grounds were like churchyards and that meant that the visitors, many of whom had turned up for the partying, many of whom were invited to come for the party, to come sing and dance, jump and wine, did not enjoy themselves. At least not until many of the restrictions were lifted, the price of the tickets was reduced and the locals started to attend the matches and to improve the atmosphere.
The tournament was robbed of atmosphere also because of the many half-filled or near empty stadiums, not so much, according to the organisers, because of the absence of the locals, but because India and Pakistan were knocked out in the first round and their fans, who had bought tickets, decided to stay away.
And inside the boundary, maybe because ofAustralia who all but destroyed the tournament by their dominance, it was no different.
Hardly a surprise
But for a few contests - for South Africa versus Sri Lanka which ended with South Africa winning by one wicket, for Sri Lanka versus England with Sri Lanka winning by two runs, for West Indies versus England with England winning with one wicket with one delivery to spare, and for Zimbabwe versus Ireland which ended in a tie, the matches were almost all one-sided affairs. And but for Ireland's defeat of Pakistan and Bangladesh's victories over India and South Africa, there was hardly a surprise.
Individually, the performances to remember were also few and far between. Thank God, however, they were really brilliant - glittering souvenirs of a tournament dominated from start to finish by the mighty Australia.
Those who saw them will never ever forget Herschelle Gibbs' six sixes in one over, Brendon McCullum's record 50 off 20 deliveries, Matthew Hayden's record 100 off 66 deliveries, Lasith Malinga's four wickets in four deliveries that nearly snatched victory for Sri Lanka against South Africa and, of course, Adam Gilchrist's masterpiece in the final.
well run tournament
In terms of organisation, the tournament was well run and for that the organisers, the ICC CWC West Indies 2007 and all the LOCs, deserve to take a bow. In fact, if the people can forget the pricing fiasco - for which they were all guilty, and the tight security that took away the people's fun, that for a time turned the World Cup into a non-West Indian affair - and again for which they were all guilty, the people of the West Indies should be proud of them.
Dehring, Michael Hall and all involved deserve a pat on the back for running a tournament which saw 16 teams flying around the West Indies for almost seven weeks without missing one piece of luggage any time. For doing things so well that even the players hardly found anything to complain about, and on top of making some money, some US$20-30 million it is being estimated, for selecting such wonderful volunteers.
The volunteers, right around the region and including Khadine Francis from Grenada, Mahalia Ashby and Kathyann Belle from Barbados, were lovely and they were great. They were hospitable, kind and warm. They were magnificent ambassadors of the people of the West Indies and, especially so, those in the press boxes around the region.
They were always around and waiting to do something to make you comfortable, and along with the crowd at the final, along with the blunder by the officials at the final, I will always remember their smiles.