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Cricket World Cup 2011: A Look-Back

“We cant have enough of it”. An Indian fan recently commented on a World Cup article. And so can’t I !

A 21 year old dream that came true

The 2nd of April’11 had brought the curtains down to one of the grandest sporting event in far stretched memory. The ICC Cricket World Cup with all its frenzy  ended in a grandiose manner with India finally bringing home the cup 28 years after Kapil Dev’s devils won it back in an English summer in 1983. The event coming in the back of a disastrous Commonwealth Games was refreshingly well organized and certainly went beyond the goals of what such an event is actually hold for.  The subcontinent is cricket’s heartland and any apprehension of security risks was brushed aside by the merriment of it all.

Of course there were flaws. The schedule was unnecessarily tedious thereby getting few players rusty and giving undue advantage to less fit sides. If it were not for the irresistible urge to eke out every last dollar for the television companies, there would surely have been two matches a day to speed up the qualifying process. Drinks break, dinner breaks and over rates were stretched beyond comfort. Substitutes were too frequent. Cricket has become far too soft and for it to graze fresh pastures, cricket needs to sharpen up.

A shot of the eye catching opening ceremony in Bangladesh

Happily enough these flaws are minor ones and not necessarily reserved for the tournament.  Indeed these have been eclipsed by the gains. The ICC must be appreciated for its initiatives. It realized that ticket prices should be as per the local income rather than the posh and mighty who come from continents away. Most locals could afford the tickets and the event would not have been half as successful but for their energy and enthusiasm. Every single match witnessed huge crowds. Premadasa and Sher-e-Bangla and others have been merry witnesses to this. Drums and trumpets were, sensibly enough, allowed by the authority.  Compared to the 2011 edition, the 1992 World Cup in Australia was flat. 1996 was too tense. The 1999 tournament in England never really came alive, neither did the Caribbean edition in 2007 and the 2003 edition was spoilt by boycotts. Exuberance even at a certain risk must take priority to coldness for the good of the game. Any game that cannot touch people is not long of this world and cricket more than touches the people around this part of the world.

Three nations joined hands as hosts. This speaks volume of ICC’s foresightedness . Pity that Pakistan couldn’t assist. The sheer joy in the faces of nearly one fourth of mankind not even considering the millions outside the subcontinent is a spectacle beyond comparison to any in sporting history. The results were so spectacular they might as well have been scripted. War torn Pakistan played against all possible odds and surpassed expectations. Above all, they showed a demeanor greater cricketing nations have oft found  hard to match. Sri Lankans brought smiles to their nation, a country after all the turmoil is still on the path of renewal. The team has a bright cricketing future. India was its usual self, a whirl of energy, a stronghold of the game. Journalists and Commentators indulged in superlatives and yet have been found lost of words to describe the hysteria that is Indian cricket.. But of all the three, Bangladesh was a revelation. Snubbed by many as unworthy hosts, they were in fact  spectacular hosts and with their brand of cricket and hospitality, they have brought joy to Bangladesh, so often labeled on the poverty’s wall of shame. The opening ceremony where even as pedal-powered cycle rickshaws escorted the captains, a  two hour-aerial cricket match went on, where high-flying acrobats hit and chased after a laser-beamed ball against a vertical backdrop of a playing pitch. It was a sign of a nation proud of its present and confident of its future.

But then, all this extravaganza would not only seem trivial, it would simple cease to exist because the talking point of the tournament for generations to come would be how India refused to be defeated against some exceptionally talented teams to clinch this holy grail of cricket. It was a stunning display of grit, determination and skill by Dhoni’s boys. To finally bring the  Cup home is a tribute to the devotion and passion of the billion people and to that man Sachin Tendulkar who has carried the burden of the nation’s expectations for 21 years. On this day however he was the one carried and cheered and rightly so. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, arguably the best Indian cricket captain ever, must deserve the accolades. He has been the calming influence to the team and befitting to the great leader that he is, he has led from the front especially on the biggest stage. With his unparallelled affluence, his composure and laughter, and his rags-to-riches story so easily told, he is easily the face of modern India, not a land of a thousand dreams but a place of a hundred possibilities. Every Indian is thankful to him and his eleven for taking him with them on a merry roller coaster ride and finally providing that moment of supreme joy.

The whole event might just have been a sporting event but it has united people across boundaries, religions, castes and numerous such self erected barriers. If cricket is a religion in India there is no better religion then. Professions, beliefs and age hold no bar when it comes to supporting the boys in blue. One cannot be blamed to wonder if any political effort can bring as much love among these neighbours who have more often than not found it difficult to agree on anything. The Cricket World Cup 2011 showed that not everything is wrong out here. It has more than anything else reaffirmed the belief that the power has taken a definite shift towards Asia and these four neighbours keeping petty disputes aside should work together towards the bigger picture that lies ahead of them

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