The 2007 World Cup in West Indies should have been like the football World Cup in Brazil – a carnival at its spiritual home. Instead, the Caribbean edition was one of the worst damp squibs in history. It wasn’t because India with its huge fan base faded out quickly or that many of the games weren’t exciting – a world cup can often throw up mediocre games, but because it missed something far bigger. It was sterile, unimaginatively corporatized, dull, bloated, and an utterly soul-less event. And to think it happened in West Indies. That hurt the most.
Cricket in West Indies isn’t the same, of course but to produce such an insipid tournament must have taken some doing. Why would one price the tickets so high that no one bothered to come? Why would one so condescendingly ignore historic venues and build new stadiums, isolated away from the cities? Why wouldn’t you at least ensure the new stadiums are decently done if you are about to dismantle tradition, so much so that at Antigua, the man they named the new stadium on, one Mr Viv Richards was left so shame-faced and embarrassed about this “honour”? And um, why would anyone tell the land of rum drinkers to say that they can only sip just one particular brand of beer inside the stadium?
The stadiums in West Indies had a character and the ICC had stripped the tournament of its local character. It could have been held in an indoor arena, it wouldn’t have mattered. No wonder, people turned their back to this event.
The tournament also saw the tragic death of Bob Woolmer, Pakistan’s coach, and the murky aftermath of it for which ICC can’t be blamed but they continued to slip up through the tournament, which culminated in that farcical finish to the final. If not for Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene who sportingly offered to play out the end in near darkness, the officials would have asked the match to be resumed the next day. And so, the final moments were played out amidst boos ringing around the arena, a fitting end to a forgettable tournament.