ICC World Cup Final: Part 1 – the pay TV fiasco

It was January last year when my mate Russ asked if I wanted to go to the World Cup final.  It sounded like a good idea, if not for the format but for the event.


It’s been years since I’ve been to a one-day game, a rained out disappointment at the Gabba against India.


It’s not that I don’t like one-day cricket, I just prefer Test cricket.  I can go an entire summer without watching one-day cricket or twenty-20 on television.


I will listen to the games on radio, but they don’t have the same importance, for me anyway, as Tests.  Tests are the real thing.  One day cricket is a distraction.


Sure it hooks a lot of kids onto cricket but it has been responsible for ruining people’s concentration and desire for Tests.


A game built for batsmen, it took a decade to evolve but didn’t become a run-feast like the authorities hoped.  The game degenerated into a snatch for ones and twos before a final assault in the final ten overs.


When former one-day star Dean Jones provided an insight into his mindset, I gave up on the one-day game.  Jones said he measured a good innings by the number of singles he took, not by the number of boundaries.


The game meandered along.  I meandered out of it after the 1999 World Cup.


World Cup – what?


I really want to thank the organisers for ruining this World Cup for those who don’t have pay-tv.


Imagine being exposed to the preliminary games.  Obviously the organisers didn’t think we wanted to watch Afghanistan, Ireland or Scotland?  And what about the grudge match between India and Pakistan?


No one wanted to see that…


That the organisers chose to shun a nation of cricket lovers is extraordinary and disgusting.  Reducing cricket fans without pay-tv to three-minute highlight packages on the news or affiliated websites was appalling.


Cricket in Australia had become a game for the rich, or those that can afford pay-tv.  That does not help raise the profile of the game or the World Cup.


Why the organisers denied cricket fans access to every game is unexplainable, if you discount money.  But surely the organisers, in conjunction with Cricket Australia, could’ve said hey, let’s give the country access to the best World Cup ever.  Let’s promote the game, really ram it down people’s throats.


Let’s demand they watch cricket.


Instead, the best moments of the world cup came from ABC radio, in my car, the lounge, the kitchen or the garage or through my phone.


When the semi-finals were on, I watched a little on television and listened mostly to the ABC.


On Sunday I’ll be at the MCG watching live.  It means I have not watched one full World Cup game on television, which seems what the organisers wanted…


Getting to Melbourne


In Brisbane it was 30 degrees with about 70 percent humidity.  At Tullamarine, it was 15 degrees, a typical cold, windy overcast morning.


Welcome back to Melbourne…


I nearly head-butted Shane Warne at the airport.  I was walking out from the toilet.  He’d pushed open the door and stepped inside.  Suddenly we were in each other’s space.


Warnie is taller than I thought, about six feet.  He’s thin like me too.  He had an expression on his face like he’d been bowling to Sachin for a day.  Or he was hiding from someone.  There was an urgency about him.


We both moved aside, not a work spoken.


I didn’t think it was the right time to say hello.  It’s never the right time to say hello inside a toilet.  So Warnie never got to meet me.  He won’t be too concerned.


Getting into the final


I don’t hate New Zealand.  It’s hard to hate perennial battlers.  It’s much easier to hate England for their simplicity and elegant hopelessness.


It’s easy to hate South Africa for their expected arrogance and told-you-so brutality.  It’s easy to hate India for their doctored pitches and toddler tantrums.


I can’t hate New Zealand, not yet.


Not like I did back in the eighties when Richard Hadlee dominated our top order and Martin Crowe blinded us with his technical brilliance.


Even then I didn’t really hate New Zealand.  I just wished they were better.  Over the years, when the Kiwis have been woefully inadequate, I understood why we had to play them, but it didn’t really seem a contest.

It annoyed me that Brisbane always seemed to host a New Zealand Test while Melbourne and Sydney got India.


Back then, some New Zealanders wouldn’t have gotten a game for an Australian state side, but still they fought on.  The tried and did their best.


I was at work when they defeated South Africa in the semi-final.  With the exception of the one South African in the newsroom, we were all going for the Kiwis.


As I was wandering across the road to South Brisbane train station, Grant Elliott smacked the six that put New Zealand into the final.  I’d missed the newsroom cheer but it was impossible not to smile.


It’s good for cricket to see New Zealand in the final.  They’ve spent a generation in limbo, eking out a win here and there.  They have proved, at home on smaller grounds, a determination to take the game on.


On the bigger MCG, it would be a shame to see such boldness collapse into calamity.


For the first time in years I’ve taken notice of one-day cricket.  I understand the power-play and its rampant hitting.  I get why one-day cricket must be a batsman’s game but I can’t understand how bowlers can’t bowl yorkers,


I haven’t found the games boring.  As always, the ABC commentary has been excellent.


And in two days I’ll be at the MCG for my first and possibly only World Cup final.


The game continues to evolve, even though the organisers don’t.



About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. Jamie Simmons says

    With you on Test cricket Matt. Vastly superior. It’s a Shakespearian Sonnet compared to the dirty Limerick that is the short form games. You can be a handy state player with a flawed technique but as long as you can clear the front foot and then the boundary, expect a pay rise.

  2. I couldn’t agree more about the pathetic coverage and cricket’s promotional opportunity wasted by drip feeding non-Pay TV viewers (and believe it or not there are many) with one game a week. I still enjoy ODI’s – particularly where there’s something significant at stake – but it’s been hard work following this World Cup in our own backyard.

    At one stage the tournament had been running almost 2 weeks / 18 matches and 1 game had been shown on 9. We even missed the Australia v. Afghanistan clash and the incredible NZ v SA Semi Final.

  3. John Henley says

    The ABC still provides the best commentary but the breaks, especially for station ID (promotion?) have become far too intrusive, often taking the place of between overs comments from the “experts”. Will we have to put up with something similar during the AFL season? I can only hope not. JAH

  4. Matt, I’ve enjoyed KP’s commentary across the World Cup. For me, that kind of insight to the modern game, as well as his enthusiasm for the tournament has been a revelation as opposed to the blokey-lads-at-the-bar-or-BBQ shite typically served up during summer.

    I’m ideologically opposed to pay-for-viewing, but it’s the reality of pro-sport and the business models that have to be instigated to guarantee viability. I’ve made my peace with buying Foxtel each month. The clear majority of Australians have too, by not buying Foxtel – if the ratings advice I’ve come across can be relied upon.

    Cricket in HD is miles ahead of the SD bollocks served up by Nine.

    Great yarn

  5. Terry Towelling says

    Is it the fault of the organisers that the cricket hasn’t been on FTA TV? Or is it the fault of the TV stations? Channel 9 is involved in the consortium that has the rights – my understanding is that the number of games that they show is their own decision.

    I’m not sure what the solution is – should the ICC insist that whichever FTA network wins the rights to a tournament is obliged to show every single game? I doubt you would get any takers. I can’t see channel 7, 9 or 10 making a commitment to show in full 40-odd games of cricket, the vast majority of which do not include Australia. I would imagine that the result of such an insistence would be that zero games end up being broadcast on FTA.

  6. Why should it be all or nothing?

    Surely, say a third of games could have been shown on FTA either on 9 or Gem?

  7. Terry Towelling says

    I imagine because Channel 9 thought they wouldn’t rate.

  8. Probably – but all these years of showing meaningless non-Australia Tri series ODI’s renders it a curious programming decision, if that’s their reason to pass on the World Cup.

  9. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Matt totally agree a wasted opportunity ( which don’t grow on trees ) not to have all of at least the vast majority of games on free to air , especially after the ratings success re big bash , yep give me test cricket every time over 1 day cricket , but a World Cup actually has meaning , a disgraceful lack of foresight re the future of the game

  10. Wayne Ball says

    Terry Towelling is right with regards to the FTA coverage. Channel Nein (no, that is not a spelling error) had the sole right to choose which games they telecast. Don’t under estimate the hissy fit from within the Nein bunker they couldn’t do their own production, but had to take the feed of the ICC preferred – wait, they don’t play favourites – Star TV production, directed from Mumbai.

    Matt, your use of the Sonnet v Limerick comparison of Test and T20 cricket is so astoundingly accurate. The Associate teams could have won more games in this tournament, yet they were found wanting in clutch moments as they missed tight run outs and catches the full time pro’s of the Test teams usually complete.

    The Associates need to be able to play first class quality cricket to improve their quality of play in the 50 over game.

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