On The Front Foot: One-dayers live to fight another day

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The Independent Online

The 10th Cricket World Cup has been an outstanding success. It has been imperfect – much too long, far too many matches and far too many of them imbalanced – but the ICC and even the BCCI will doubtless preen themselves, and perhaps each other, a little this morning.

Crowds at matches have been adequate, if not as large as Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the ICC, implied the other day. Television audiences have surpassed expectations with the match between India and England breaking viewing records held only until India played Pakistan.

The final yesterday was expected to set a new figure for a cricket match. The 50-over game which has already been the subject of many obituaries, has lived, it would seem, to fight another day.

But being in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is to have been part of the passing throng. Evidence from elsewhere – England, Australia, South Africa – hints that this competition has not exactly made their worlds go round.

That is the continuing conundrum for the game. Its success in terms of mass fanbase, television audience and commercial returns is stemming from one area, the sub-continent in general and India in particular. That places a moral burden on India to realise its responsibility to the wider cricketing world which it is not yet fully prepared to accept.

In the next few years it will be fascinating whether it permits the ICC to be a proper governing body or whether the ICC merely becomes a branch office of the BCCI. It may be that the ancien regime, the old countries of England and Australia, will have to flex their withered muscles and remind India and her friends of the hold axiom that to win you always need someone to play against.

The only show in town

Television advertising rates were spiked hugely for the final. This applied as much to stations which did not have broadcast rights as much as to stations with them. For 10-second slots – and they were all that were available –advertisers were being charged 30 lakh rupees, which translates as three million rupees or almost £42,000. According to sources quoted in the Times of India, it left big hit shows like Indian Idol “in its shadow.”

Kumar's in at No 1

Of the 94 men to have been captain of teams in the World Cup, eight have also been their team’s wicketkeeper. But Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara were the first to combine the roles in the final. England’s only captain was Alec Stewart in 1999. The most successful going into the final was Sangakkara with most runs, catches and stumpings.

Tickets please

The Wankhede Stadium, venue for the final, is a ground transformed. It was decrepit and ramshackle, now it is almost state of the art. The number of turnstiles has increased from none to 55, the number of toilets from 296 to 1130.

But in one crucial area it has diminished and it caused no end of bother in the days before the match. The ground capacity went down from 38,830 to 33,179. Only 4,000 of those seats were available for public sale. Tickets were changing hands on the black market for up to 10 times face value and the money was being gladly handed over.