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Cup still to cheer...
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai |
February 08, 2003 17:08 IST
The eighth World Cup of cricket is less than eight hours away, but it is still struggling to shrug off the label of a jinxed tournament.
Rows over players' contracts, threats of boycott of co-hosts Zimbabwe and Kenya, and scrambling over revenue-sharing have bedeviled the tournament for months now but there is still no sight of a resolution.
Board of Control for Cricket in India selection committee chairman Chandu Borde says problems of this nature are only to be expected in events of this size.
"The Australians and the West Indians had problems in war-torn Sri Lanka in the 1996 World Cup but nobody said it was jinxed. So, why should we call it jinxed now?" Borde asked rediff.com.
But experts, pundits and others in the know are still silently wondering if something is amiss in Africa, the first time cricket's showpiece one-day tournament is being held in the "Dark Continent".
Says Rajasthan Cricket Association president P M Rungta: "If you see all the events that preceded this World Cup, it is difficult not to wonder if it hasn't suffered from some sort of a jinx. After all, no previous World Cup was enveloped in such uncertainty for such a long time."
Why that has happened, no one knows. But Narahari Amin, president of the Gujarat Cricket Association, hazards a guess.
"Too much money and too much politics. Everybody wants money now -- the players, the boards, the sponsors, everybody. The stakes are way too high. Besides, even a tiny incident gets blown. All this is not good for the game," says Amin, also a Congress leader in his State.
However, the fact that after a partial boycott in Asia, a partial boycott in Africa looms large over this World Cup has not escaped notice.
Says Cricket Club of India, Mumbai, president Raj Singh Dungarpur: "It is the figment of the imagination that things are utterly, horribly wrong in Africa. Fear is being exaggerated by some players. I was in Kenya last Christmas and I traveled all over the place. It is a beautiful and wonderful place and there is no fear for visitors. So I fail to understand why some cricketers are opposed to playing there."
Dungarpur also plays down English and Aussie fears of the Zimbabwe situation. "The struggle in Zimbabwe is between black and white farmers and nobody will touch cricketers. So there should be no problem in playing in Zimbabwe."
The International Cricket Council this week refused to accede to requests to shift the matches to South Africa.
The media, too, cops some of the blame for the controversies that have dogged this World Cup. Dungarpur and Rungta say every little incident has been blown out of proportion, magnifying it exponentially in the eyes of the public.
"They should keep mirch masala out of the game. Exaggerating incidents is not good for the game," says Rungta.
But with closure still evading some of the critical issues, the question is: will the controversies continue even after the first ball is bowled?