Robin Scott-Elliot: An era to go but World Cup has made surprisingly good start

View From The Sofa: World Cup cricket/ Sky Sports
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The Independent Culture

There is a sporting truism, often applied to tournaments, that runs something along the lines of "nobody remembers how you got on in your first game if you get your hands on the cup/trophy/cash and accompanying lucrative endorsement contracts and place for life on top of the billing on the after-dinner circuit with Bob 'the Cat' Bevan and that guy off Mock the Week at the end of it all".

The Cricket World Cup, though, is the only event where it is literally true. The final is so far away there are fears global warming may have made a mockery of squad selection by the time two teams get to Mumbai.

By then the first games will already be part of cricket's great archive alongside Sachin Tendulkar's first one-day international (1989 in case you're wondering) and Mike Gatting's waistline (around the same era), yet the first week's viewing has been better than might have been expected.

There was Tendulkar yesterday for a start, while England's opener against the Dutch and Pakistan's victory over Sri Lanka on Saturday were also welcome surprises. It is always a pleasure to discover something new, such as Ian Fleming's involvement with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Lord Sugar's guide to world affairs in 140 characters – and finding out that 50-over cricket is still worthy of attention. In a couple of weeks that novelty will probably have worn off as the number of pointless games mount quicker than Stuart Broad's dashes to the smallest room.

Fifty overs does offer proper pondering time, a key part of any cricket match (watching or playing: who hasn't mulled the meaning of life down at fine leg, as CLR James nearly said).

Cricket's authorities have done little for the appeal of the sport, and this form of the game in particular, with the schedule – and with a number of games almost certain to lack real meaning is there not the added prospect of the odd deliberate no-ball here, a maiden there or even a wicket thrown away. Who would notice? The temptation will be there even if the ICC think they have it under control.

At games such as England against the Dutch the crowds have been sparse and about as noisy as a Saturday afternoon at the Emirates (the Carling Cup is a welcome relief for north London regulars given the fears over library closures as government cuts bite). But when the grounds fill up such as for Sri Lanka against Pakistan, the atmosphere comes bouncing out of the screen. There is no sporting noise quite like the silence of an Asian cricket crowd when something goes against their side. Dot balls can be greeted with cup-final winning glee but if the local champion gets out the silence is remarkable.

Sky, as is their wont, are giving the World Cup the full bells and whistles. Ian Ward is man on the spot, with earnest reports on the very latest twist and turn from Camp England. But if Andy Flower is Fabio Capello, who will be John Terry, especially given that KP has already had his stab at fermenting revolution?

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