It was meant to end with a glorious day of cricket, bathed with brilliant sunshine. Nature had other plans, however. Rain came early and the start of the game was delayed repeatedly, and play did not start until 12.15pm. Rain also delayed play during the afternoon, so the final was a shortened game. We got wet several times in the waiting, but it seemed worth it.
The Australians, who had dominated in every one of their matches, did the same again today, and emerged as champions for the 3rd consecutive time. But the match had a bizarre twist at its end. The light had faded badly and when the umpires offered Sri Lanka the chance to accept that play stop due to bad light, with 2 overs to complete, they accepted it. The Australians celebrated, the field was being cleared to set up for the final presentation and after-match fireworks and entertainment. Hold on! Some consultation between the umpires and captains followed, and here come the teams again.
And so, in virtual darkness, balls were bowled and batsmen tapped for 10 more minutes, and the end finally did arrive. A nonsense! A confusion caused by the officials not knowing their own rules and having believed wrongly that because of the bad light decision the final overs would have to be played the next day, something no one wanted. A huge bungle!
So, the trophy and medals were presented, and a large portion of the crowded booed the officials of International Cricket Council, Cricket World Cup 2007, and West Indies Cricket Board, but cheered heartily for the cricket greats who were involved in the ceremony. Strangely, no politicians from Barbados or other CARICOM country played a visible role in the final ceremony.
Then the last entertainment started; it was not well coordinated or well announced. Nice pan music and great dancing puppets. But why have dancers dress in white plantation clothes and why have the pan players in dreadlock wigs? Again, we see our own presentations giving the world the "wrong" image of the region. We are more than that. We have to figure out what is our modern identity.
The crowd on the day seemed in good spirit, and it was really Australia against the rest of the world; almost every non-Australian at the Kensington Oval was rooting for Sri Lanka. And those tickets were expensive. So, we were going to get our money's worth with our cheering. The food service seemed a lot better, and no long lines or food running out from what we saw. The drinkers had a great day and they topped up in the long rain delay; but no one got out of hand. That would not be cricket!
I'm glad that the matches are over and I think that after 51 days of playing, it's good to have something else to focus on. The post-mortems started some weeks ago and there may never be any agreed view about the tournament, except in a few areas. It was a tough challenge for the Caribbean to put on this major international event. We should be proud that we took on the challenge. But we also should really look hard at all the lessons to be learnt about what we did well and what we did not do well, and be honest. That may be difficult for us, but for now I want to live in hope that we have the maturity to do this assessment.
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