It was a fitting finale to an absorbing World Cup tournament at, where else but Lord's in London, the eternal `Home of Cricket' Sunday night in which two very good teams participated and fought it out till the `super over' for ultimate glory. England won in their fourth attempt in a final, while New Zealand the runners-up in 2015 enacted two consecutive failures in the final after the match was tied at 241. Even the `super over' was tied at 15 runs apiece and only the count of more boundaries in the match decided matters in the home team's favour. Comments quickly came that it was the best ever `white ball' match. It was a drama of dramas, to say the least, nail-biting till the last ball; and even then arguments continued whether the relevant law was applied correctly for the over-throw that deflected off man of the match Ben Stokes' bat to give England six runs in the ultimate over of the regular contest in place of five. Incidentally, England had to look to an Irish in their captain Eoin Morgan, who has guided them impeccably throughout the eleven matches, and to a West Indian from Barbados in Jofra Archer, who bowled the `super over' intelligently, to help them cross over the line. No doubt, Kiwi captain Ken Williamson would take very little comfort from his adjudication as the man of tournament ahead of Bangladesh's Shakib Al-Ahsan and India's Rohit Sharma, but he is indeed great. In the end, it is cricket which won.
The rain-hit matches, loss of priceless advertisement revenue from the India-Pakistan match disturbed by the elements, Virat Kohli's agony of losing a low-scoring semi-final to the Kiwis, sky-rocketing price of tickets for the final and the warning of the International Cricket Conference (ICC) to fans not to buy from the black market are all behind us now. While the English would celebrate their victory in the days to come, the Bangladeshis would reflect on what might have been if certain selection decisions were made differently. However, we in this country must come to grips with the issue of depth of our squad and chart out a road map that opens the door for more players of the standard of Shakib and Mustafiz to join the scene quickly. High standard coaches have to be hired and more contests organised at home and abroad. Coaching and competition backed by sufficient financial rewards are the key to advancement in not only cricket, but to sports as a whole. For a start, the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) can be broadened with more teams; and if the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) wants it, the government needs to come up with the necessary fund. Days that marked the BPL's failure to pay foreign players in time should be over. True we cannot replicate an Indian Premier League here, but we can have a model of our own. A lot remains to be done, and definitely from the government, which has set a unique example by coming to aid football directly in the last budget.
Like any big international sporting event, the ICC's World Cup is a peace-maker, a creator of friendship among peoples. We have seen throughout this tournament fans from different countries sitting next to each other and cheering their respective teams. The large economy that worked behind the tournament through the creation of temporary jobs in England and Wales was a spur to business everywhere. Merchandising, sponsorship and broadcasting reached new heights centring on this competition. Every team is left with lessons, not least Bangladesh. It is now time for us to cash in on the messages from the ICC World Cup 2019.
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