Flying in for the ‘real’ thing

You might automatically assume that, for Indians, the IPL is the ultimate in cricket and entertainment – and for some fans, it might be.

The entertainment side of things is understandable but from a cricketing point of view, there is an unmistakeable feeling that ‘nation versus nation’ cricket remains the real thing and nothing can beat it for the intensity, competition and therefore, entertainment.

That view is certainly prevalent amongst the international players who took part in the recently concluded IPL and they are under no obligation, either formal or ‘loyal’, not to say so. The IPL will survive its current murky, financial introspection and investigation and, no doubt, will continue to dominate television screens around the world for six or seven weeks a year in the future, but it will always remain a domestic competition.

The ICC has been criticised roundly over the last decade or so for its procrastination in dealing with important issues and failure to take action and show leadership. But one thing they have continued to do well, barring a couple of embarrassing hiccups (notably the 2007 World Cup here in the Caribbean) is organise and run global events with great success.

The T20 World Cup is an opportunity for both the ICC and the West Indies to banish the memories of the convoluted 2007 event and its toe-curling final and I’m delighted to say that it’s a clear case of ‘so far, so good.’

It’s not always to know what is going on in other parts of the region because inter-island communications aren’t always easy and there aren’t even daily newspapers on many islands. But in St.Lucia, certainly, the players from Australia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe have enjoyed the benefits of fine accommodation, excellent playing and practise facilities and first-class hospitality.

Barbados has long been used to hosting visitors in style and the Proteas have had no complaints during their build-up and acclimatisation period. The event is short and sweet (unlike the IPL!) but that doesn’t mean there is a lack of excitement – it just means the anticipation is mounting far more quickly than at any other world event.

The one danger of the format is that the group stages might have seemed like foregone conclusions with the Super Eight stage all that mattered, but the qualification of Afghanistan has added an air of mystery, the performance of Zimbabwe against Australia and Pakistan and the presence of giant-killing Ireland have all added rather than detracted from the interest in the tournament.

The warm-ups are done. Let the show begin!


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