The Cricket World Cup is the biggest event in the sporting calendar of any cricket crazy country. India being the most cricket crazy it is supposed to be the biggest event. Unfortunately over the last few years with too much of cricket being played around and popularity of the T20 format of the game means that the 50-over version of the game has gone down in it's popularity.
Having said that, it is still a very popular event and India is gearing up as one of the co-hosts of the game. This time around in the tournament there are 14 nations and that makes the tournament a very long drawn one.
Coming to the sides, this time around there are quite a few nations that can win the world cup. The weakening of Aussie as a cricket team and the strengthening of other teams has made this one of the most even world cups in some time. Australia, India, South Africa are the front runners, but Pakistan, England and Sri Lanka are worthy dark horses. Bangladesh and New Zealand can pull off one or two upsets here or there. Also, the fact that this competition is being held on the dead as a dodo subcontinent pitches means that one batsman can pull off the match for any team and no score is secure to win the match.
Having been a keen follower of cricket and having followed every world cup since 1987 very closely, I feel that the fever of this cup has not yet started this time around. It can be attributed to the fact that there are too many minnows around. The real world cup does not begin till we hit the quarter final stages. It is one of the biggest criticisms of the ICC that they have so many minnows playing in the initial half of the tournament which results in lot of meaningless and one sided matches. In the first week of the world cup so far there has been just one close match that is between Holland and England while all other matches have been one-sided. One match ended in one session and another match had a margin of around 200 runs. I think such results will really kill of the sheen of the world cup.
Grooming minnows is necessary, but the Cricket World cup is not the place to do so. This is the showcase event of the best in the world and should feature the best teams playing each other more often. I would have loved going back to the format we had in Australia 1991 when each team played each other at least once. That can only be possible if there are less number of teams. In the last 35 odd years of the world cups only one of the associates has really matured into a proper team and that is Sri Lanka. So this associate theory is definitely not working anyway. Bangladesh is showing signs of improvement, but that is not because of the world cup, but because of the fact that they are playing the bigger teams more often.
Anyhow coming back to the world cup, let's hope we have some great matches. More than anything this might be our last glimpse of talents such as Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Muthaih Muralitharan and Chris Gayle at the world stage.