Sunday, April 29, 2007


Wow! 9th March is when I reached Montego Bay in Jamaica. That's when the World Cup started for me. The teams had reached here before that. And so had a number of journalists from India and elsewhere. Today is the 28th of April here in Barbados, and the tournament is finally over. In appropriately stupid and disappointing fashion. The Australians have won. There's been no change in world order. The most 'open' World Cup in years has been closed shut. Sealed.

What a two months it has been! It started with Bob Woolmer's murder. This was, of course, after India had lost to Bangladesh and Pakistan had lost to Ireland after having lost to West Indies and therefore knocked out of the tournament within 5 days!

So Woolmer died. And then the next many days were spent in a blur of police stations and hospitals and funeral parlours and police press conferences. Words like 'toxicology' and 'histology' suddenly became the new buzzwords, and 'aconite' would soon become a poison everyone always knew about. 'Cricket Correspondent' they called me in office when speaking over the phone, and I would talk about histology and the Jamaican Constabulary Force and autopsies and asphyxia and heaven-knows-what!

That was phase one.

Phase two was spent in watching and reporting on a sequence of the worst one-day cricket I have ever seen. It was the Super Eights of the greatest World Cup ever. The interesting Sri Lanka-South Africa and Sri Lanka-England games were seen on TV. As was the inconsequential England-West Indies game. Lara retired. Ordinarily I would have wept and sent emotional reports. I ignored it. It didn't matter. I wished everyone suddenly retired and the tournament would be called off. No luck. Ireland had to play Bangladesh and it had to be reported.

This was interesting from another perspective. Every single Indian journalist had made Barbados part of their itinerary for the India-Pakistan game on the 15th of April. That eventually turned out to be the Ireland-Bangladesh game. And it became the most widely covered game of the tournament (bar the final) because it had every single journalist present.

By and by we reached the semi-final stage and saw two more bad games. And then today's final. Rain. Shortened match. Cricket in the dark. Bad umpiring. Aussies celebrating before the match was over. The final was a living, breathing example of Murphy's Law.

Add to this the fact that the West Indian islands - beautiful as they are - were just not ready with the infrastructure required for a tournament of this magnitude and the whole thing gets even worse. Lost baggage was an everyday occurence. As were delayed flights. Hotel bookings were ticked off without any intimation, and some colleagues even complained of flights offloading them after issuing them boarding cards.

On the flight back from St Lucia, we had a stopover in Antigua. At Antigua, when we were in transit, we were told that some bags had arrived from St Lucia that could be ours. Could we please check? They were ours. They should have reached Barbados, but had reached Antigua before we had. By an earlier flight. And by then the connecting flight had left.

This was, of course, still better than the time our luggage didn't arrive at all when we went from Grenada to St Lucia. Or as two other colleagues from another TV channel experienced: large suitcase lost, only to resurface the day before they left for India forty days after their arrival in the Caribbean.

The saving grace were the people. In every island. Really. If the tour gets a 5 out of 10 in my book, 4 of those points are for the people and one for the novelty of the experience. The cricket, of course, is retired hurt.

Sambit Bal writes on the tournament, and what a dud it's been, here.

And this is cricinfo's Andrew Miller's take on the final farcedown.

Andrew was brilliant at the press conference with Malcolm Speed today as well, asking him whether he doesn't think the portents are appropriate for a resignation. Malcolm replied in the negative - what did you expect? - but was a bit shaken by the question to start with.