By Naeem-ul-Haq in USA
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Having followed closely each and every single edition of the Cricket World Cup (CWC) since its inception in 1975, I have very little doubt in mind that the recently concluded 13th edition in India was the most controversial of them all, on and off the field. The hosts could not win the trophy despite all odds being stacked in their favour.
It was a marquee event of the International Cricket Council (ICC) but the governing body of the game came under heavy criticism as did the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the hosts. They were accused of actions and inactions which didn’t go well with the cricket followers across countries.
The insistence of the hosts to play the final on a wearing track instead of the originally chosen fresh strip backfired and loss of toss proved to be the last nail in their coffin. Despite being on top of the game for 10 matches on a trot, the Indians fumbled in the final at Ahmedabad and the robotic Australians capitalized with hints of conviction to capture the crown for a record sixth time.
While the majority of close umpiring decisions seemed to have favoured the home team, it proved to be a different ball game in the final where rub of the green titled Australia’s way. The umpires call saved the visitors much to the disapproval and annoyance of the huge crowd which became silent as the match slipped out of India’s hands.
It was really chocking not to have found the World Cup winning Indian captains of the past, Kapil Dev and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in the prize distribution ceremony from which Sourav Ganguly, who led India to the final in 2003, was also absent. Reportedly the trio seemed to have some ‘political’ difference with the hosts who probably didn’t invite them.
Another mind-boggling move was the skipping of an inauguration ceremony before the start of the championship. The Indians have had the reputation of organizing the most colorful of ceremonies but they chose to remain silent this time and the World Cup got off to a muted start directly with the opening match between England and New Zealand.
It’s a common knowledge that the Indians are well versed in arranging mega events and high-profile ceremonies but they didn’t deem it proper to let the CWC 2023 gain the hype it deserved. The dates of the event were altered and it were finalized at the eleventh hour. There were numerous factors which made it a forgettable outing.
Toss was another cause of controversy as Rohit Sharma came under fire for throwing the coin upward far too wide. The ICC will now be advised to exercise control in this matter too in order to make it transparent and fair to all contestants. Technology should come in and it could be monitored with the help of a camera.