Just a look at some things we would be lucky to avoid at the ICC Cricket World 2011.
1. A boring, dull, one-sided final: The last 3 World Cups were great affairs, but lacked the killer punch at the end. True, Australia were far better than the teams of the subcontinent, but surely, a better final is to be expected. More than anything, the showpiece event should always be a gripping affair. Here’s hoping we get a final worthy of a World Cup.
2. Injuries: The dreaded list is ever increasing, and might dampen the spirits of teams and spectators. Praveen Kumar and Eoin Morgan are just 2 names who would be gutted to miss out. It does pave the way for someone else to shine, but the ideal scenario would be if teams are staffed to their maximum strength.
3. Rain playing spoilsport: South Africa would be happy that the chances of the Duckworth Lewis being implemented look fairly remote this time. However, with major climate shifts everywhere in the country, can’t we expect a few late winter showers to spoil the party again? Fingers crossed on this one!!
4. Doping: Brad Hogg was undoubtedly a big star in the 2003 edition of the trophy, having replaced the master of spin bowling, Shane Warne. But the scandal took away a superstar, and cricket suffered a major blow. Let’s stay away from doping, match-fixing and other such scandals for a month or so, can we?
5. Umpiring howlers: Thankfully, we haven’t had glaring mistakes at big stages in the recent past, but in the 1975 final when there was no replay technology available, a single error cost Australia a chance to wrap up a huge upset over West Indies. Only God knows what would have happened had Tom Spencer ruled not out when Greg Chappel rushed through for a single, but with increasing pressure on the men in white, we could be in for a (in)famous decision.
6. Crowd trouble: The World Cup is being played in the continent where cricket is more than just a game. The hype surrounding the entire event has already reached enormous proportions. Naturally, the disappointment of fans becomes evident, when their teams do not perform well. Especially given the fickle nature of the crowd support we have witnessed over the years, one cannot bet against another Calcutta fiasco.
7. Champions Australia: A 4th straight victory? You have got to be kidding me. This looks the best chance to dethrone the mighty Aussies, but they won’t go down without a fight. Honestly speaking, if this Australian team were to win this tournament, I’m pretty sure there would be some truly magical performances and battles galore en route. I still hope Australia doesn’t retain the crown, and we might just witness a new name on that trophy this time round.
8. Under-prepared/ deteriorating pitches: We should expect high scoring games this World Cup. Only the slow, low pitches of Sri Lanka might prove a bit tricky. But as long the pitch plays the same for a 100 overs, teams will not complain. We do not want a repeat of the Eden Gardens pitch when the ball started turning square 70 overs into the match. It makes the toss all the more important, and tilts the balance of the game in favor of one team. We wouldn’t want to see that, would we?
9. Deaths to coaches/mentors: While Pakistan may have had a nightmare of a tournament in 2007, the biggest talking point was the mysterious death of Bob Woolmer, the then coach of Pakistan. A fine coach of the Proteas, his death brought with it huge gloom to the cricket fraternity, and the focus(quite rightly) shifted to investigations. The 1999 edition also saw the untimely death of Tendulkar’s father, and we were deprived of watching the marauding Tendulkar in that tournament.
10. Pakistan beating India: I speak on the behalf of over a billion people, this is the last thing one wants in a World Cup. It is biased, but to hell with bias. After all, all’s fair in love and war.
Let the mayhem begin!!!