Monday, April 4, 2011

World Cup 2011 - The Blue Era Begins

And so after three consecutive world cups, and over ten years of uncontested dominance, we have a new team crowned winners. I have made it no secret that I am no fan of this Indian team, but its time for a quiet admission on my part through clenched teeth. India deserve to be crowned champions. 

It also invited bad puns. © Associated Press

India had their usual misfields, but Sri Lanka had more. India had poor backup bowlers, but Sri Lanka's were worse. The first innings was a scramble around the brilliant Jayawardene. The run chase, barring the first few overs, was precise, restrained and quality batting. One can harp on about dropped catches, injuries and leaving Mendis out (some even dare to say that Sangakkara cheated at the toss), but it came down to a very simple fact, the better team won.

Are They The Best In The World?
Yes, despite their flaws. While they were sloppy throughout, you cannot argue with results, their only loss was narrowly to South Africa. The ease in which they got over the final, with who was without doubt the number two team really highlights this. As much as I hunted for excuses for the Sri Lankan's losing, there were none.

It of course helped that this all took place on dead home pitches, and they probably will struggle more outside of the subcontinent. But that is no reason to begrudge them, every series or world cup is held at some venue, and a home side will have an advantage. Its part of the game.

Are They Better Than The Australian Empire?
Absolutely not. Not even close actually. The Australians were magnificent, they would field eleven top class players with no apparent weakness in any department. Think six Tendulkars, three Zaheers, a Sangakkara and a Murali, who all field like Raina and Dilshan. Scary wasn't it. They could have fielded a second eleven and beat most world teams, such was their depth.

India and Sri Lanka emerged on top because the Aussie fortress collapsed (well, retired), not the other way around. I honestly believe that the Indian team of 2003 is equal, if not stronger than this one, and we all saw what happened to them.

Ouch. © Neil Lane

There is a long way to go before any team is as good as these guys were.

Why We Thank India's Victory
They bring in the numbers, of that there is no doubt. They were excellent hosts of this tournament, and the event was a big success. With the Indians backing it up, at least we can be rest assured that the fifty over game is in safe hands. They didn't "IPL" the game thankfully and left it in its own, mostly original and glorious form.

India is also one to embrace other teams I feel. Out of sheer numbers, smaller teams such as Ireland will get their supporters, particularly with a few of them featuring in the IPL already, along their first Dutch player to join them this year. All cricket lovers cannot deny that a strong Indian fan base and their passion is great for the sport.

Why We Regret India's Victory
The overindulgence has already begun. The amount of money that gets poured into the game is truly astounding, with each player receiving a 1 crore bonus ($200,000 USD roughly). It doesn't sound like much, but 1 crore in India is more than what the average man will ever see in his lifetime. Worse still given that half the team were average, if not poor throughout the tournament. They simply do not know when to stop, especially with money. The BCCI are already powerful, with having more control over cricket than the ICC itself, this victory means more power.

Too much power is never good.

The hero worship is almost laughingly bad, with patriotic film songs booming throughout the game as if India was welcoming a victorious army on independence day. All that was left really was Aamir Khan to jump out onto the pitch and win the match Lagaan style with "Mere Desh Ki Dharti" running in the background (to the non-Indian readers, something like Queen's "We Are The Champions").

And you need to be in, or have been to India to see just how far the endorsements go, with cricket players all over clothing labels, Pepsi ads, hair gel, even this monstrosity from Nike:

Get used to it folks, cricket will indeed bleed blue for the coming years.

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