Yesterday saw India crowned champions of the world by beating Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in the final of the Cricket World Cup. I have to say, it was well deserved, they have the most intimidating batting line up in the cricketing world. I did tip them at the start (and put my money where my mouth was - even had a small bet on it being an India vs Sri Lanka final!) so I am feeling quite smug today! It has been really great to see the drama and excitement that this competition has generated which shows that the 50 over format is still going strong. There has been plenty of talk about whether this format is necessary when the Twenty20 format is so popular, my personal preference is still for the longer version (Jonathan Agnew agrees), I think it provides a better platform for the players to showcase their talents and as Ireland showed against England it still produces the unpredictability. As a big cricket fan I've thoroughly enjoyed following it for the whole of the past 6 weeks, but even though I love cricket even I admit this is far too much. It is crazy to make every team play 7 games just to get to the knock out phase, especially as those 8 teams who reached the quarter finals were those that could have been predicted. The teams had to wait far too long between games, I don't see why there couldn't have been a day time game and a day/night match every day? The next world cup will have fewer teams in, however I don't think this is good as it removes a big incentive for the lesser teams to improve. It would have been much better if they had just created more groups, maybe take in two more teams and have four groups of four - or one more team and three groups of 5. I don't see how making the competition less inclusive is good for the game even if they are making the Twenty20 world cup more inclusive.
What about England?
I said at the start that failing to make the quarter finals would have been a disaster. They almost failed to achieve this thanks to their shock defeats to Ireland and Bangladesh. They simply were not good enough all the way through to win the World Cup - but I never expected them to be. They had the problem of not knowing their best side and didn't look like a cohesive unit at all through the tournament. When they won the Twenty20 world cup they were a team, everyone knew their roles and performed well, this team looked a shadow of that unit. It is difficult to be too critical of them though, they have had an immensely hard winter and if you asked most English fans they would have much rathered win the Ashes in Australia than this tournament. They were pretty much the only team worth watching in the group stages as well, every one of their games was interesting, there were no easy matches. Stuart Broad was a massive loss for them, he seemed to be playing so well, if he'd continued they might have stood a better chance, but even then it would have been a big ask for them to go any further. I am not so keen about the amount of Ashes cricekt that will be played in the next few years (makes it a little less special) but it is a positive for the team that they wont have the two big events straight after each other in future, hopefully the administration have learnt from this experience.
Final word though has to come back to India, and particularly the man himself - Sachin Tendulkar. He may not have been Man of the Match, or even Man of the Tournament but his contribution to cricket has been incredible. He is one person who is a joy to watch bat and I think it is really great that his illustrious career also now includes a World Cup success - oh to be in India right now.