Ignore doom merchants, World Cup still matters

Andy Lloyd
THE 50-OVER World Cup might have lost some of its prestige and allure as a result of the boom in Twenty20 cricket, but reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated.

Four years ago in the Caribbean the authorities got things badly wrong. Poor crowds, the lack of a genuine threat to Australia and a convoluted format all contributed to a largely forgettable six weeks.

Thankfully, cricket has moved on a lot in the intervening period and I expect this tournament to reignite interest in a format of the game which offers a more than happy medium between the glitz of T20 and the subtle nuances of Test cricket.

Power-plays and increased fielding restrictions have added an extra tactical element to the game and I’m sure we’re going to see an action packed tournament, full of attacking cricket. Having said that, pitches in the subcontinent don’t tend to sit hand in hand with fast scoring rates and sixes galore and with that in mind home advantage is going to prove vital.

Sri Lanka and India, despite the enormous pressures they’ll be under to perform, will take some beating and what better way could their be for true champions like Muttiah Muralitharan or Sachin Tendulkar to enhance their legacies than by walking off into the sunset with a World Cup winners’ medal.

As great as it is to see the old stagers having one last hurrah, cricket is in need of a new crop of superstars and the World Cup could propel the likes of Virat Kohli, a typically gifted, wristy Indian stroke player, or Sri Lanka’s artful spinner Ajantha Mendis to that next level.

Having praised the authorities for tinkering with the format, I would, however, have to question their desire to include so many associate nations. I don’t see the point of their presence. What are the likes of Canada and Ireland going to bring to the party?

True, there were some huge upsets last time around, but I don’t see any chance of a repeat this time and taking a series of hefty beatings isn’t going to aid the development of these smaller nations.