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Australia close to perfection in World Cup full of problems

Australia close to perfection in World Cup full of problems

If only the organizers had asked the Australian players to handle the cricket World Cup.
Australia did everything perfectly.
As a troubled World Cup ended in darkness and farce, Ricky Ponting and his teammates collected the trophy for an unprecedented third time in a row, beating Sri Lanka by 53 runs in the final at Kensington Oval.
It was their 11th straight easy victory here in the Caribbean, 23rd in a row in the competition dating back to the 1999 final and 29th without defeat. It's difficult to see how anyone will stop them taking all those streaks further when the championship moves on in 2011, despite the retirement of Glenn McGrath and coach John Buchanan's decision to step down.
Adam Gilchrist saved his form until Saturday's final. After struggling with the bat through the previous 10 games, he scored the fastest and biggest ever World Cup final century, an entertaining 149 packed with 13 fours and eight sixes to take control of the match at Kensington Oval.
"We're not letting the events at the end there tarnish anything this team has achieved in this whole tournament," Gilchrist said.
"We've had 29 undefeated World Cup games, we've had 23 wins in a row and the way we've played our cricket here and what we've achieved has been phenomenal. We have to try to highlight how an amazing group of people have come out and performed so well. It's been an amazing summer and an amazing World Cup campaign."
Thanks to Gilchrist, Australia scored 281 for four in the 38 overs allowed by a long rain delay at the start. Although Sanath Jayasuriya (63) and Kumar Sangakkara (54) threatened to match that with a second wicket stand of 116, the Australians hit back by ripping through the middle order.
Another shower reduced the target and the overs and the Sri Lankan run chase was over long before the final ended in farcical circumstances.
It was getting dark and the Sri Lankan batsmen were offered the light. When they began walking off, the Australians began celebrating, believing the game to be over. After several minutes of confusion, the Sri Lankans came out again and, in near darkness, the last three overs were played out.
"It's human error. I'm very embarrassed," said the match referee, former New Zealand batsman Jeff Crowe. "It's a bit of a crisis scenario.
"The real confusion occurred when it was suggested that the remaining overs would be finished tomorrow. This was never a consideration and it was a mistake on our behalf. We will certainly learn from the confusion and the mistakes that were made."
The ending was typical of a competition that never lived up to its potential but went from one problem to another.
Billed as a festival of attacking cricket with the best players in the world competing among 16 teams in eight Caribbean venues, the World Cup ran into issues it never expected.
Security had to be stepped up when a tear gas canister was let off at a hotel housing South Africa, Pakistan, Canada and Ireland in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Six England stars reportedly went on a drunken binge at St. Lucia with star allrounder Andrew Flintoff allegedly having to be rescued from the sea while riding a pedalo.
Then came the biggest shock of all.
The day after his star-studded Pakistan team was upset by the amateurs of Ireland in a group game, coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room in Kingston, Jamaica, apparently strangled. Six weeks on, Jamaican police are still to make an arrest.
The high price of tickets and strict regulations laid down by the local organizing committees led to many of the games being played in half-full stadiums with local fans staying away.
They also lost their enthusiasm when the West Indies lost four games in a row early in the Super 8s and failed to reach the semifinal.
The Indian fans who flew into the Caribbean were soon flying out again after their team was beaten by both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and failed to make it to the Super 8s round.
With both India and Pakistan out, Bangladesh and Ireland were surprised to advance to the next phase and hoped for more upsets. Bangladesh beat South Africa by 67 runs in Guyana and, although Ireland won many friends with its enthusiastic fielding and spirited performances against the game's giants, its only triumph in the Super 8s was against Bangladesh.
Australia, meanwhile, marched impressively on with a sequence of easy victories over all its remaining rivals.
Opener Matthew Hayden amassed 659 runs from 10 innings _ 111 more than anyone else _ while Glenn McGrath, playing his final event before retirement from the game, took 26 wickets to set a new mark for a World Cup.
During the tournament, South Africa was announced as the official one-day cricket top ranked team. But the Proteas were convincingly beaten by Australia, both in the group phase by 83 runs and in the semifinal by seven wickets as Ponting's team underlined that it was easily the best team in the world.
New Zealand, which beat an injury-hit Australian team 3-0 in a one-day competition at the end of February, showed signs that it could take the title for the first time. Instead it lost by 81 runs to Sri Lanka and ended a semifinal loser for the fifth time.
Brian Lara surprisingly said farewell to cricket and finished his career in the most thrilling game of the championship.
Run out for 18 after a mixup with teammate Marlon Samuels, Lara saw his team waste a useful score of 300 as England, powered by a century by Kevin Pietersen, won by one wicket off the next to last ball in Barbados.
England had also won a one-day tournament over both Australia and New Zealand in February. But Michael Vaughan's team never showed any sign of being a serious title contender here as only Pietersen, with 444 runs from nine matches, played true to form.


Updated : 2021-05-14 08:45 GMT+08:00