Things Can Only Get Better (Can They?)

Three weeks in (or is it longer?) and I'm still not totally sure what I think of the 2007 World Cup. Certain themes are starting to emerge, though, and it's hard to escape the feeling that the organisers should be a bit concerned about how things are going.

To start with, the coach of a major nation has been murdered. Hardly a great way for the tournament to get under way, and, despite the fact that the World Cup has continued (a decision I was completely in favour of, given that it's surely what Woolmer would have wanted), there can be little doubt that, ultimately, that is what the competition will be remembered for.

Also, two of the highest profile sides in the tournament were eliminated at the first hurdle. Okay, it was nobody's fault but their own, but the Super Eight would be looking a bit more interesting now if India and Pakistan were still around.

Then there's the weather. There's been a lot of rain around and this has detracted from the continuity of the tournament and the visual impression created by it. How many games so far have been played under blazing skies in front of packed houses? Not many.

Which brings me to the question of crowds. Hardly any of the matches - even those involving the West Indies - have been watched by large audiences and it's becoming clear from the media that a number of the decisions taken by the organisers, from building new stadiums in unsuitable locations downwards (coupled with the standard ICC over-regulation of spectators' habits) have created the impression that this is a competition which the people of the region aren't completely sold on. And unless the form of the West Indies improves pretty quickly, things aren't going to change.

On the field it's looking more and more as though Australia are the team to beat, with South Africa, Sri Lanka and especially New Zealand looking like the only sides that can stop them. Ireland and Bangladesh have surely come as far as they're going to, West Indies are staring down the barrel and England give the impression of limping along, untested, unproven and unconvincing, with their old nemesis Jayasuriya and friends awaiting them later this week. In some ways it's reassuring that normal service has been resumed in the one-day world - Australia on top, England faltering, and the rest somewhere in between - but it doesn't make the World Cup any more interesting.

One can only hope that things will get better.

They need to.

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