Cow Corner

Was it a good World Cup?

Cow Corner

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So after six weeks and 49 matches, India have been crowned World Cup winners for a second time.

Some would say it was fate for Sachin Tendulkar — the best batsman of his win in his home city - and some would say it was a measure of the new world order in international cricket with India leading the way both on and off the field with over a billion fans backing them all the way.

India now join the elite pantheon of multiple winners of the premiere tournament in one-day cricket — joining the 1970s West Indies and the modern day Australian team.

But has the 10th World Cup been a good one?

Well, yes and no.

Certainly there have been enough good matches in this tournament to believe there is still life in this format of the game.

Unlike the upstart younger sibling that is Twenty20 cricket, 50-over cricket does allow ebb and flow and more of the flux that makes cricket such a great sport.

Certainly the batting powerplay is an innovation that has worked far better than some of the other concepts conjured up by the ICC - the sub rule anyone?

But what do we have to look forward to now in 50-over cricket?

Not an awful lot is the answer. We now have essentially four years of a never-ending stream of meaningless series - indeed they start as early as next week as Australia go to Bangladesh for three ODIs.

Instant gratification for the insatiable fans on the sub-continent but instantly forgettable for players and fans alike.

The time between World Cups need to have some meaning… which brings us nicely to the format of the 2011 event.

Certainly a shorter World Cup than the ultra-marathon in the West Indies has helped (and having fans in the ground and allowing them to make noise wasn't a bad idea either).

But the ICC dodged a bullet thanks to England's erratic performances.

Although in the end the eight quarter-finalists were the octet everyone expected, England's ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Ireland and Bangladesh meant we had an exciting final week of group action.

If the rather low-key end to Group A had been replicated on both sides of the draw, the impetus of the tournament could have been completely lost.

As South Africa proved, topping a group means very little in the 50-over cricket where everyone beats everybody else pretty regularly.

What is needed is for the time between World Cups must be incentive laden.

A league system where the top four nations over a four-year span between tournaments would automatically qualify for the quarter-finals of the next event would be one such motivation.

That would leave teams ranked five and six facing the best two associated nations - who have to come through their own week-long qualifying tournament in a nice little aperitif to the main event.

With teams seven and eight facing nine and ten (you can already chalk in England and West Indies for those two spots).

Of course the money men — and most notably TV companies - need enough matches to justify the tournament. So how about making the quarter-finals, semi-finals and even the final a best-of-three or best-of-five series?

If Cowers was to suggest that India were not the best team in ODI cricket then there would probably be a bovine effigy being burnt in Mumbai right now, but they did tie with England and suffered a three-wicket loss to South Africa.

That is the nature of ODI cricket. If you played the Masters over 18 holes or the World Snooker final over five frames, the outcome is likely to be different.

Would New Zealand have beaten South Africa over five games?

If you want to declare a country as undoubtedly the best team in ODI cricket then extend the format. No-one has ever accused the World Series or the NBA finals of not being a big-time occasion because the title is not decided on a single day.

With only the number of teams - 10 - and not the format of the 2015 event in Australasia decided there is still time for the ICC to think outside the box. And after all, can it be any worse than the Super Six stage?

Cowers is well aware that Spain lost the opening match of the football World Cup and no-one is questioning their right to be lauded as the best team in the world so we will finish by hailing this India team and in particular the skipper MS Dhoni who has the Midas touch.

Ice cool under pressure, Dhoni has led India to the 2007 World Twenty20, to the top of the world Test rankings and now their first 50-over World Cup in 28 years (not to forget that the Chennai Super Kings took the 2010 IPL under his stewardship).

After hitting 91 not out to lead India to victory over Sri Lanka - a captain's innings to rival that of Clive Lloyd's in the 1975 World Cup final - with about 17% of the world's entire population monitoring your every step, Cowers thinks he is worthy of all the rupees that come his way.

MAN OF THE TOURNAMENT: Sachin Tendulkar - more than a billion Indians were hoping that the master batsman reached his 100th international ton on his own patch in the final. The sporting gods were not to allow that but with 482 runs, the little master cemented his reputation as the best batsmen who has ever lived whose name is not Don Bradman. Tendulkar, 37, has not yet indicated when he plans to retire but he could sign off now with a huge amount of pride.

INNINGS OF THE TOURNAMENT: Kevin O'Brien — 113 off 63 balls to embarrass England and give Ireland something they never imagined, a victory in the World Cup over the team who steal all their best players. He might show his grandchildren the footage one day but he will need to photoshop out the pictures of his haircut.

BOWLING SPELL OF THE TOURNAMENT: Lasith Malinga — bemused and bewildered Kenya with 6-38 which included a hat-trick. His devastating round-arm reverse-swinging yorkers are completely unplayable. Given he learnt how to bowl like that on the beaches of his home island, the England Lions are considering sending their young quicks to Margate to learn how to bowl.

FIELDER OF THE TOURNAMENT: Marty 'Two Toes' Guptill — the Kiwi proved that having only seven toes is essentially an advantage when it comes to flying around the covers. Budding youngsters everywhere are now asking their mates to run over their left foot with a forklift truck to remove the superfluous digits.

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