The best World Cup of all time

But the ICC's decision to chop out the Associates - especially Ireland, who were integral to the excitement - is both baffling and tragic.

updated: April 05, 2011 12:32 IST
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Four years ago in the Caribbean, it was said that the ICC got the World Cup it deserved. The 2007 tournament was a bloated, corporate, soulless sell-out of an event, infused with a noxious blend of controversy and apathy that turned the self-proclaimed Carnival of Cricket into a six-week wake. In Asia in 2011, however, the ICC got the World Cup that it needed, and that is not the same thing whatsoever.

By the standards set in 2007, not to mention those in South Africa in 2003 and England in 1999, the 2011 tournament was a resounding triumph. In fact, an impromptu survey of approximately 1.2 billion people might well conclude that it was the best World Cup of all time. Admittedly some non-Indian observers might suggest those findings had been skewed a touch, but try telling that to the jubilant masses who spilled out of the Wankhede Stadium and onto Mumbai's Marine Drive on Saturday evening, or to anyone who shared the scenes of delirium in every street of every city, town and village of the world's second-most populous nation.

The funny thing is, those 1.2 billion people are almost certainly right, but not necessarily for the reasons they might assume. Of the 10 World Cups to have taken place since 1975, none has come close to matching the narrative and drama of the tournament just completed - not even 1992, which is commonly cited as the pundits' pick to date. The greatest triumph of this edition lay not in the final outcome but in the journey that was required to reach that crowning moment, for the excellence of the entertainment was not simply an illusion glimpsed in the moment of India's victory. This would have been a World Cup to savour, irrespective of whether Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni had managed to turn the tide of the final in their country's favour.

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