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End of the (Cricket) World (Cup)

March 30th, 2015 · No Comments · Cricket, The National

Most. Tedious. Global. Event. Ever.

The Cricket World Cup.

The thing ended Sunday, the 44th day of the competition.

Yes, 44 days. Or longer than many Hollywood marriages. Twelve days longer than William Henry Harrison‘s presidency. Forty-four days is one-and-a-half soccer World Cups.

And not only was it long, it was often crushingly dull in that way only cricket can achieve.

The final certainly was forgettable. Australia defeated little brothers New Zealand by seven wickets. (Don’t ask.) It had all the suspense of a hanging. The most important part of the result?

It ended the tournament.

We at The National sent a reporter to Australia and New Zealand, which co-hosted the event. He may have taken out citizenship in one or the other country by now, he was gone so long. At this end, it seemed he was caught up in an almighty grind that went from Auckland to Perth and many points in between.

The Cricket World Cup is played in the one-day international format, which means it’s just a ridiculously long single day to get a winner. Not a five-day slog like Test cricket is.

As a newspaper, we have interest in the event because of the number of Indians and Pakistanis (maybe 4 million?) here, in a country of around 10 million people. Indians like to say “cricket is an Indian game invented by the English.” Pakistanis are almost as entranced, but their team is prone to fits of corruption that perhaps take off a bit of an edge.

Also in our audience, the Brits and the South Africans and the Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis and the handful of antipodean types here, who also play the game.

(It would be interesting to compare how many nations actually care about cricket, against how many nations really care about baseball. It probably would be a close-run thing. If cricket has an edge, it’s because of India’s population of 1.3 billion people.)

We had further interest because the UAE’s own team, an amateur side made up mostly of expat Pakistanis (nine of the 15 players), qualified for the 14-nation tournament.

No, the Cricket World Cup is not exactly an elite competition. Not like the soccer World Cup, which is 32 team from the more than 200 political entities that play soccer. Cricket’s World Cup included pretty much every nation with any real interest in cricket and a couple with something quite a bit less. Emiratis (UAE citizens, that is), care not a whit about cricket, for example. Some Scots may not know they have a cricket team.

Pool play was eternal. Two seven-team groups, and everyone played the other six teams in their group, a process which took a month and a day. No, really. Someone or other playing cricket into the early afternoon became the background noise of my workplace.

The UAE was competitive in its first two matches, against Zimbabwe (a very sad country) and Ireland (a wet one more interested in Gaelic football). Then came four blowouts, which is what was expected from a team made up of guys who work for a living pitted against professionals.

That month and a day was needed so that we could eliminate six teams (from 14) — and five of those could have been predicted by a child. Or an American. Scotland, Afghanistan, Ireland, Zimbabwe and the UAE. Of course.

The sixth was England, which made the rest of the cricket world laugh, because the Masters of the Game are given to airs of importance, but England was pushed aside by Bangladesh and went home the same time as Scotland. Oh, the humanity.

The quarterfinals began on March 18 with eight serious teams, which is where the competition could have/should have begun. But the competition would have lasted only 12 days, and something important has to last longer than that.

The fly in the ointment was India going out in the semifinals, to Australia, a result that probably cut the viewing audience for the final by about 200 million Indians (some of them still grieving deeply over their team’s ouster), setting up the Oz-Kiwi final.

New Zealand is a rugby nation, and the cricket team was a bit of a surprise, though it had been playing well ahead of the tournament. But in the final, Australia just bullied the Kiwis. Slapped them around.

Winning by seven wickets is a blowout so complete it is hardly worth talking about.

(Though we did, for three full pages.)

So, that’s over, thank goodness. And I’m just going to guess that I will not have to deal in any way with the next Cricket World Cup — in 2019, in England and Wales.


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