World Cup criticised

PARIS - It should have been a blockbuster which packed in the crowds and attracted rave reviews.

PARIS - It should have been a blockbuster which packed in the crowds and attracted rave reviews.

But, for many, the 2007 World Cup was too long, too expensive, too dull and eventually even the International Cricket Council was forced to admit that this particular marathon had left everybody exhausted.

"We listen to criticism, and there has been a lot of it from people saying it's been too long, so we'll look to make it shorter," said ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed.

"We'll seek to reduce this 47-day World Cup by seven or 10 days, and hopefully we'll get it down to somewhere between five and six weeks next time."

Whether or not the TV moguls will be happy with that arrangement remains to be seen, especially with the 2011 edition to be staged in the subcontinent, the financial engine of the international game.

The ninth World Cup, the first to be held in the Caribbean, started welcoming the 16 teams in the last week of February.

Two months on, Australia defeated Sri Lanka in a final ruined by the rain and which ended in utter confusion.

But despite the farce in the gloom at the Kensington Oval, what will the 2007 tournament be remembered for?

Tragically, it will be forever associated with room 374 on the 12th floor of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston where Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer was murdered the morning after the 1992 champions had been humiliated by Ireland.

The defeat sent Pakistan spinning out of the World Cup and the game of cricket, once a metaphor for all things decent in sport, into a serious bout of introspection amid dark whispers of the involvement of match-fixing mafias in what became the biggest murder investigation in Jamaican history.

The search for Woolmer's killers is still ongoing while there's been no end to the fevered speculation on a motive.

In the seven-week tournament, sparsely attended games were a constant bewildering sight as locals, priced out of the market, voted with their feet.

The early exit of Pakistan and India, traditional magnets for battalions of fans, only added to the eerie quiet.

Things improved when organisers dropped their restrictions on musical instruments being brought into the grounds and introduced a right to re-entry. But fans argued that the measures were too little, too late.

England's Barmy Army hit out at the costs of travel and accommodation. Steve Laffey, of Australia's Fanatics supporters' group, said fans were disappointed with the atmosphere at matches.

"We expected it to be a lot more lively, calypso cricket, the atmosphere usually associated with cricket in the Caribbean," he said.

But there were some magical moments. - Sapa-AFP