World Cup Controversies
When cricket is around, can controversies be too far? And when it's the World Cup, the unsavoury moments escalate to a new level.
When cricket is around, can controversies be too far? And when it is the biggest cricketing event, the unsavoury moments escalate to a new level. CricketNDTV.com takes a quick look at some of the controversies which marred the quadrennial tournament in nine editions.
Pakistan, Cricket and Controversies walk hand-in-hand and this has been proven time and again. However, biggest controversy hit Pakistan cricket during the 2007 World Cup in West Indies when their coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room in Jamaica. The Pakistan team lost their group match to minnows Ireland and that had shocked the cricket fraternity. Nobody knew a bigger shock was to follow soon. Woolmer was found dead in mysterious conditions. Initial reports suggested that he died of a heart-attack. But a few days later Jamaican police launched a murder investigation. They based their probe on a report by pathologist Ere Seshaiah that Woolmer had died of asphyxia via manual strangulation. The entire Pakistani team was questioned by the police. However, on June 12, 2007, police closed the investigation with the conclusion that Woolmer died of natural causes. And while Woolmer's family agreed and accepted the outcome of the investigation, many cricket fans refuse to buy the theory of natural death.
It will not be an exaggeration if we say Shane Warne is the best leg-spinner Australia, or for that matter, the world has ever produced. But beyond that greatness lied a man, who was more like a mischievous kid who didn't know how to cover his goof-ups. Only that he was not a kid but an international cricketer who was more of a role model to aspiring cricketers and a lethal weapon in the Australian attack. Even before the start of the 2003 World Cup, Shane Warne's chance of becoming a part of Australia's historic African safari was dashed. He tested positive of diuretic, a banned substance. In his defence, Warne said it was pill that his mother gave him for curing headache. He later accepted that he took one of what he called a "fluid tablet" – the prescription drug Moduretic — in an attempt to improve his appearance. In the end, the panel found Warne guilty of breaching the ACB's drug code, and imposed a one-year ban. It was later revealed, and confirmed by Warne in a TV interview, that he had taken two pills. The drug he took was banned because it could mask the presence of other drugs. The Judge in the case found both Shane Warne and his mother's testimony to be "unreliable".
Though the 2003 World Cup was fairly a successful one, it did have its share of controversies. Zimbabwean players Henry Olonga and Andy Flower protested against the Robert Mugabe's regime and wore black armbands for their tournament opener. They also issued a statement saying that they were "mourning the death of democracy in Zimbabwe". The apart from political circumstances, security concerns also made England apprehensive of travelling to Zimbabwe. They were under tremendous domestic pressure to boycott the game. And while England said they would play, they did not, citing players' security. As a result, Zimbabwe advanced to the Super Sixes just 2 points ahead of England, from the 4 points they achieved from the boycott. New Zealand, too, decided to not to travel to Kenya due to security reasons. Since the match was forfeited, Kenya advanced to the Super Sixes and eventually to the semi-finals.
South African skipper Hansie Cronje sparked the controversy by wearing an earpiece to take instructions from coach Bob Woolmer in the dressing room during the first match of the tournament against India at Hove. India complained to the officials about the earpiece and match referee Talat Ali told Cronje to remove it. The International Cricket Council was outraged by the incident and made its views clear to South Africa in sternly.
Last time when the Indian sub-continent hosted the World Cup, it did not live up to the expectations. A bomb blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka before the start of the tournament made Australia and West Indies reluctant. Their decision to forfeit their group matches was criticised by the organisers. The World Cup opening ceremony in Calcutta (now Kolkata) was promised to be a gala event but it flopped. The much-hyped laser show malfunctioned. Another crisis struck the Eden Gardens when Indian fans disrupted the semi-final against Sri Lanka as defeat was looming over the home team.