After two dispirited performances in the "Super 8" stage of the tournament, Windies have shown that they are not up for the fight. Lackluster in the field, and uncertain with the bat. Neither wickets nor runs are coming easily. West Indian fans rally round their team when they see effort and pride, even in chasing a losing cause. When the team seems to have a "can' care" approach, then that support turns quickly into heavy criticism. So, look out for lots of the latter about everything from the team selection, to the actual performances, and then even to the value of a regional team.
On the other side, the competition is not turning out to be the spectacle promised by my some politicians and organizers.
- Will there be major visible benefits from the competition? Countries have borrowed heavily and spent large sums to develop stadiums and infrastructure for the games. Public comments have focused on the debt burden for the future. Projections of large increases in tourist visitors don't seem to be close to actual arrivals. Those hoping to benefit, whether they are hotel, villa and apartment owners, vendors, taxi drivers, or other merchants, are looking at slim pickings at the moment as arrivals are nowhere near the levels predicted, and some reports of lower hotel occupancy emerge. Bar owners were hit for six by recent announcements that they would need to pay for licences to show games, even though these are being transmitted on broadcast channels, not limited cable or satellite stations. The sour taste these developments are creating is likely to change little if Windies continue to do poorly, and has already been made difficult with the early departure of Pakistan and India, whose supporters were expected to provide a large part of the crowd base.
- Why are the crowds so small? It is shocking to see the spanking new or expensively renovated stadiums with barely half the seats filled most of the time. Reports indicate that many games are "sold out" but the crowds look pitifully small. Part of the problem is that tickets given as obligations to teams or to sponsors have not been used. Another problem is that Caribbean fans like to make late decisions about matches and are being put off by the many new restrictions and complications they are facing. Whether it's security measures and how that slows things or upset people not accustomed to such procedures; or it's park-and-ride arrangements that force expensive additional fares or long walks to the grounds; or the somewhat bizarre restrictions on food, drink or clothing (due to concerns about safety and "ambush marketing/free advertising"), fans are being put off. The ticket prices are also very high for many potential fans. These things also put off many local people, who like a much more relaxed affair with cricket and "can' deal wid all dem rules", and they have decided to stay at home and watch the games on TV or listen on the radio.
Well, the bats will be out to beat on the heads of all associated with putting on the tournament and those who are representing the region on the field. It could get nasty, so put on your helmet and pad up well, as lots of fast and dangerous balls are coming soon.