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World Cup potentially most dramatic ever

COLOMBO: Cricket’s governing body has said that critics of the 50-over format have been proved wrong by a World Cup that is shaping up as the “greatest and most dramatic ever.”

International Cricket Council President Sharad Pawar says television audience figures for the tournament have set records and that combined with crowd figures “demonstrate the enduring appeal of the 50-over game.”

“I have no doubt that it will continue to grow from strength to strength in the future,” he said. “Some people have been predicting the demise of 50-over cricket but they have been proven wrong.”

The World Cup has been criticised for being too long and for mismatches between top teams and smaller cricketing nations such as Kenya, the Netherlands and Ireland. The present tournament started February 19 and 40 games have been played so far, with the first quarter-final yet to be contested. It climaxes on April 2 with the final in Mumbai.

The ICC has already taken steps to shorten the World Cup by reducing the number of nations taking part from 14 to 10.

T20 cricket has grown in popularity but Pawar said the tournament had already produced gripping cricket.

“We have surely been treated to a real feast of 50-over cricket with some outstanding games,” he said. “Few who were in (Bangalore) will forget the tied match between India and England or Ireland’s record-breaking triumph against England, while the passion shown by the home supporters for the hosts Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka has been spectacular.”