The Caribbean nations identified as West Indies by the common wealth nations were hosting world cup party. West Indies as it’s known in the Cricketing world is a sporting coalition of mainly English Speaking Countries in the Caribbean. Cricket is the only sport where a group of countries like Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, South American Country Guyana and other small Island Countries like Antigua , St Lucia, Barbados play as a single team. West Indies in spite of a great Cricketing pedigree had never hosted a world up until then. The tourist allure for the Caribbean paradise with their crystal clear waters and sun soaked beaches made the west Indies a Perfect choice for ICC to host the world cup and market it as a ideal vacation package for the global cricket audience.
George W bush was in the final years of his second term and American media was abuzz with the entry of Barrack Obama into the 2008 presidential race upsetting Hillary’s applecart Most Americans were unaware of the fact that a giant financial crisis was lurking down the corner.. India had by now had become a back office of the world and a IT global player in addition to being recognized as a cricketing superpower not because of the performance of the Indian Cricket team but due to the enormous clout BCCI was wielding in ICC because of the Millions of sponsorship revenue it brought to the game..
Cricket Administrators in 2007 tried to take a leaf from the Football World Cup. They increased the number of teams to sixteen and introduced a first round with four groups of four teams each. The structure of Football cup matured over the years into a thirty two team tournament with a first round of eight groups of four teams each followed by the knock outs. Football world cup because of a huge world wide audience is not dependent on the sustained progress of a team into the later stages of the competition to guarantee its commercial success. The demographics of the Cricket world cup audience make it a highly India centric tournament because of the huge Indian audience compared to the other cricket playing countries. The expansion of the cricket world cup was done with the premise that India would advance into the second stage of the tournament and ensure a guaranteed TV audience. The super six format was expanded to a super eight with two teams each finishing first and second from their groups qualifying into super eight with the assumption India and Pakistan both will qualify in Super eight. It was supposed to be a safe passage for the top eight teams into the super eight.
Bermuda and Ireland were the new teams to qualify for the world cup. Kenya, Netherlands, Canada and Scotland did not have much of a curiosity value as they had been around in the previous world cups. The wild celebrations of huge framed Dwayne Leverock of Bermuda when he took a stunning catch offered by Robin Utthappa in their match against India fielding in the slips was one of the defining moments of the world cup. India now coached by Greg Chappell and Captained by Rahul Dravid was placed in the same group with Sri Lanka , Bangladesh and Bermuda.. Likewise Pakistan was grouped in with Ireland Zimbabwe and West indies. Any cricket fan would have safely put his money on India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and West Indies qualifying from these groups. But a series of unexpected results left the Indian and Pakistani Cricket Fans Stunned into Silence. Bangladesh team the no hopers created a huge upset by defeating India in the first match . This was followed by India losing to Sri lanka in a must win match and India as a result was eliminated in the first round a improbable scenario before the start of the competition. Pakistan Cricket team’s performance followed a similar trajectory as they were defeated on the St Patrick’s day by Irish Cricket team. The on field action was complimented by the happenings off field as the Pakistan team coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room adding more suspense and intrigue into the happenings of Pakistani Cricket team. The other two groups followed a predictable path with Australia, England, New Zealand , South Africa easily qualifying into super eight. It was Bangladesh and Ireland who participated in Super eight after their giant killing acts leaving both India and Pakistan to pack their bags. Both the Irish and Bangladeshis were not able to sustain their performance in super eights.
The Super eight was lengthy and long drawn inviting a lot of criticism from the cricket fans. The tournament suffered from the elimination of India and Pakistan so early in the tournament. Australia the defending champions continued to run riot and the cricketing world was really looking for a team who could challenge their domination. The Semis had the perennial bridesmaids Newzeland and South Africa take on the Srilanka and Australia. Both the matches failed to get the spectators on the edge of their seats. Kiwis once again did what they do best “exit in the semis”. South Africa’s performance did not help them to get rid of their “choker’s tag as they failed to put up a fight against the aussies.
It was a repeat of the final of 1996 with Australians taking on the Sri Lankans at Barbados on 21st April 2007. Gilchrisht demolished the Srilankan bowling attack and batted like a man possessed to record the highest individual total in a world cup final. Sri Lanka put on a fight with their trusted lieutenants sangakarra and jayawardane but it was not to be enough to tame the famed Aussies led by Ricky Ponting from achieving a hat-trick of world cup titles.