A cup diminished by greed
Posted in World Cup 2007
Guyana Chronicle
April 3, 2007

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You have to feel for the poor old ICC. Hard as it tries, almost every aspect of the World Cup has come under fire. In fairness, it wasn’t its fault that India and Pakistan were eliminated, but everything else takes some explaining…

In The Observer, Vic Marks doesn’t hold back, and points out it’s worse in reality that it seems to TV viewers:

Television helps to disguise some of the flaws of the tournament. In between overs we can watch the tourist trailers of sun, white sand and azure seas, which are more pleasing to the eye than some of the building sites outside the grounds. More important, the cameras can be turned away from row upon row of empty seats in brand new stands.

The pricing structure here verges on the scandalous and highlights what is increasingly becoming a cancer for the modern game - rampant commercialism, which was once known more simply as greed. In Guyana, one of the poorer nations in the world, the cheapest ticket for a place on the grass is US$25 (£12.60). It can cost up to $100 for a seat.

Not only is this pricing structure greedy, it is stupid. Someone has made a major miscalculation when applying the old economic law of supply and demand. This is, inevitably, a TV World Cup - that is where the money comes from - and the TV product has been diminished. Not even the most skillful producer can hide those empty stands and the lack of atmosphere for eight hours a day.

In the Mail On Sunday, Daniel King also takes a pop at the prices:

It will be no more than the organisers deserve if the home team’s exit from the competition ... plunges the box office into deeper crisis. The cheapest ticket at grounds across the West Indies is $25, or around £13, which is just about the average weekly wage of someone working in the sugar industry in Guyana. Malcolm Speed, chief executive of the International Cricket Council, is once more in Pontius Pilate mode. He said: ‘We had to rely on the advice of the local organising committee to establish the prices of the tickets. It is, in retrospect, a little too rich for the local palate'.

In Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, Martin Johnson railed against the seemingly never-ending competition.

This World Cup is so bloated that if the Sky commentary team decided not to shave for its duration, they'd all come home with the kind of beards that would make WG Grace's resemble teenage bum fluff. There was some nonsensical blather about needing 47 days to find a winner to give the players plenty of rest, but the real reason is to keep the tills jingling for as long as possible.

And he’s not any more enamoured with the quality of TV commentary.

There are several excellent ones, and no one is better at conveying tactics and what might be taking place in a fielding captain's head than Nasser Hussain. On the other hand, there are some so-called expert summarisers, mostly with a delivery like the Speaking Clock, who specialise in the bleeding obvious.

In this field, leading by a short head from Ramiz Raja is Ranjit Fernando. Batsman plays and misses. "He nearly hit that ball, but he really didn't make contact." Batsman hits just short of fielder. "That ball was in the air for a while, but it didn't quite reach the fielder." Much more of this and there'll be no one watching on the TV either.

In The Jamaica Gleaner, the respected Tony Becca agrees:

According to the visitors, they heard about cricket in the Caribbean, they saw cricket in the Caribbean on television, they saved to come and enjoy cricket in the Caribbean and, now that they are here, cricket in the Caribbean for whatever reason, is not what they expected it to be. Here's what one Englishman said to another at the end of the first day of the West Indies/Australia match: "It is like watching cricket at Lord's. It's no bloody different."

Maybe it is too late to do something about it, but regardless of what the organisers say, the World Cup is hurting, and it is hurting, not only from the manner in which the tickets were sold to the locals, not only from the false announcements that matches were sold out, not only from the trouble, from the pushing and shoving that people have to go through now to get tickets, and not only from the fact that in terms of their music the Caribbean has been silenced, but also from the price they have to pay, or had to pay, to enter the matches.