Monday, April 30, 2007

Clippings: Cricket World Cup-- farce or high farce?

By Chuck Culpepper, Los Angeles Times
LONDON — Many complain the cricket World Cup ran too long at a whopping seven weeks, but others might complain it didn't run long enough.
The average American human brain, after all, cannot absorb cricket in seven weeks.Seven months might suffice.Or, not.Australia became the first country to win the World Cup for a third straight time, cementing its dynasty with a 53-run defeat of Sri Lanka on Saturday evening, but with the use of the dreaded Duckworth-Lewis method.Cricket aficionados comprehend the Duckworth-Lewis method, but many other humans, including physicists at Ivy League universities, do not.
In matches fraught with weather delays, the Duckworth-Lewis method, devised by Englishmen Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis, gauges an outcome through a mathematical formula.Other, simpleton sports simply look at the scoreboard to see whether five innings have passed and, if not, reschedule for another day.Cricket uses math, which many people follow sports to escape, and it's unclear whether Australia won the 2007 World Cup once or twice.
That's because, after delays in stormy Barbados — and everyone can agree it's a bummer when you have a stormy Barbados — the Australians celebrated their title, then learned from umpires that it wasn't complete, so they'd have to play on.
They played on a little bit more until darkness put the clamp on the day, whereupon they celebrated again.
Reported London's Daily Telegraph, "Nothing was visible except the electronic scoreboard which did not know what was going on. Nobody could see the celebrating Australians or the closing ceremony."
A sport which produces such a chaotic climax as this is not a sport which is properly run. "
The national newspaper the Australian chimed in with the phrase "a quite ludicrous finale."
Most everyone employed the word "farce," with the BBC opting for "high farce."
Somewhere in there, one Adam Gilchrist had paced Australia, wringing a World Cup final record 149 from 104 balls, in the final match for one Glenn McGrath, retiring from a memorable career. With Gilchrist as bulwark, Australia reached 281 for four wickets in 38 overs.
Later, Sri Lanka reached 215, not enough to win under Duckworth-Lewis.
Thus did end one of history's most traumatized sporting events, stretching through seven weeks in eight Caribbean nations. Two titans, Pakistan and India, had exited early and shockingly, but that proved hauntingly mild. After Pakistan's ouster, hotel housekeepers in Kingston, Jamaica, found its globally esteemed coach, Bob Woolmer, dead in his room on March 18.
Four days after that, authorities ruled the death a homicide. The investigation continues.After a pause for reflection, play resumed, and the Australians kept winning decisively, bringing their three-quadrennium winning streak to 23 and their unbeaten streak to 29, their last loss coming early in the 1999 tournament.
They have won four of the nine cricket World Cups held since the event debuted in 1975, and their stylish Tasmanian captain, Ricky Ponting, has graced the last four finals, winning three and captaining two. That much seems legible, if the process did not.
Later Saturday night, match referee Jeff Crowe cited human error in the umpires' mistaken decision to bring Sri Lanka back on for three more overs, after the Sri Lanka batsmen had exited because of bad light and Australia had commenced celebrating.
Even sage cricket enthusiasts might not ever comprehend that.

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