Waugh attacks Cup organisers for missed chance
By Simon Baskett
April 4, 2007
BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) - Former Australia captain Steve Waugh criticised Cricket World Cup organisers on Monday for not using the tournament to promote the sport among youth in the Caribbean.
The crowd turnout at the stadiums during the event has been disappointing in all six islands that have hosted matches so far in the seven-week tournament.
With hosts West Indies on a losing streak and facing elimination before the semi-finals, numbers are unlikely to increase in the remaining matches.
"Obviously the ticket prices are too high. I think the Caribbean has missed a great opportunity to educate the young kids about cricket," Waugh told reporters on Monday at the Laureus sports awards in Barcelona.
"If anything you'd think they'd let them in for nothing.
"They should have asked the common people what they should have been doing. It's pretty obvious what they should have been doing. Why overcharge when it's a great chance for the Caribbean to showcase what they've got and get kids back into cricket?"
Ticket prices starting from US$25 have proved to be too expensive for many locals.
St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas defended the prices even though the per capita income in his tiny nation was $8 000.
"Our residents have had some time to save," he said last month while group matches were being contested on the island.
The shock first-round exits of India and Pakistan have also had an impact as fans who had been expected to travel to the Caribbean for the second-round matches have stayed away.
Some islands have given schoolchildren the day off to attend matches and swell the crowds. Not many, however, have been seen at the grounds.
"They were talking about bussing 3 000 schoolchildren in today and letting them in for free, although I don't think there are quite that many here," ICC spokesman Brian Murgatroyd said in Antigua during New Zealand's match with Bangladesh.
The seven-week tournament, the first time the event has been held in the Caribbean, culminates in the final on April 28 in Bridgetown, Barbados.
The West Indies have a rich tradition in the sport, winning the first two World Cups, both played in England, in 1975 and 1979.