A wonderful tournament woefully managed: Reflections on the World T20
Has everyone got their breath back? After 35 matches of pure carnage, the World T20 is over. Done. Finished. Gone in the blink of an eye, the past three weeks seem to have been experienced in fast-forward. From a cricketing point of view, the show was spectacular and everything the ICC could have hoped for. Carlos Brathwaite's four consecutive sixes to win the tournament for the West Indies were as fitting an end as could possibly have ever been written. This competition was all about the batsmen, their adaptability to varying surfaces and inventive bowling attacks, and their capacity for clearing the ropes. Brathwaite's cameo at the end shouldn't eclipse the masterful innings of Virat Kohli - India's one-man army - or the indomitable Joe Root, whose diminutive stature belied the scale of both his power and strength of character. But these individuals alone did not make the tournament. This was a celebration of what cricket means to the modern player and to the modern fan. Despite India not reaching the final, the atmosphere at Eden Gardens on Sunday night was raucous; 70,000 men, women and children delighting in the West Indies' bravado. Prior to the game, Ben Stokes posted on Instagram a picture of himself as a child, swinging wildly in the garden. 'Been dreaming of days like today since I was a youth,' he wrote. The tears in his eyes as Brathwaite's final maximum fell into the stands were telling. This tournament meant plenty to those involved - to Afghanistan, who beat the world champions and celebrate with Chris Gayle; to England, who almost completed the most extraordinary of one-day revolutions; to West Indies, the very modern champions whose broad shoulders were complimented by extremely sharp minds. Over three weeks on the sub-continent, the world's best players made the case once again to those remaining, backward-thinking 'purists' who discredit T20 as cricket's bastard child that the format is the game's future. This was entertainment, from first to last. It was pioneering sport. It is exactly what the ICC would have wanted. It is a shame, then, that the event was so let down by its organisation. Luckily for the governing body, most new fans would have been watching on TV - where production was crisp. For the locals who wanted a piece of the action in person, this was borderline shambolic. Supporters being asked to make 90-minute rickshaw rides into town and back to buy tickets for a different venue, last-minute stadium switches because of security concerns which would have been obvious to anyone with an ounce of understanding of the geo-political climate in Dharamsala, stadia failing to meet the criteria for the necessary safety certificates, non-existent audiences for associate matches, floodlight failures - this was a wonderful event terribly managed. With each successive, booming six off the bat of Carlos Brathwaite, the ICC and its event organisers could breath a little easier. Their failures were masked by the brilliance of their nations' cricket. And the cricket really was totally, utterly, sensationally brilliant.