Australian press lament cricket ‘tour de farce’

They might have walked away with the coveted World Cup trophy, but Australians were Monday shaking their heads at the bizarre ending to the biggest event in cricket’s one-day calendar.

“Victory in tour de farce” trumpeted Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which bemoaned the official bungling that saw the last minutes of the final against Sri Lanka played in near pitch-black darkness.

Confusion over whether the game had finished, which saw Australia celebrate victory for 10 minutes before being asked to play three more overs, had reduced the competition to an “international laughing stock,” the paper said.

The criticism did not stop at the rain-interrupted final played at Bridgetown’s Kensington Oval but extended to the entire tournament, which was dismissed as too long and boring.

“The 2007 tournament will go down in cricketing history as being short on organisation and long on duration,” The Australian daily sniped in an editorial.

The contest was overshadowed by the murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer after his team was stunned by cricket minnows Ireland, triggering concerns that match-fixing syndicates had again infiltrated the game.

Moreover, the World Cup was “dull and one-sided”, with Australia comfortably winning every game they played, leaving outgoing coach John Buchanan to say the difference between the Aussies and the rest was as “between night and day,” it said.

Such was the dominance of the Australians in the limited overs game that tail-enders Glenn McGrath, Nathan Bracken and Shaun Tait never had to bat.

The Sydney Morning Herald, under the headline “Blind led the blind,” decried the competition hosted by the West Indies as the “most tedious of tournaments.”

The absurdity of the Barbados final, it said, was “in keeping with a tournament that has witnessed everything from the murder of a coach to the erosion of supporter goodwill courtesy of overly officious administrators.”

The Australian eleven will nonetheless be afforded the respect of champions on their return, with a public welcome home in Sydney on Thursday to congratulate the team and bid farewell to McGrath, who retired after the final.

In McGrath’s home town of Narromine, locals are considering erecting a bronze statue of the lanky 37-year-old paceman or naming a park in his honour.

“Australia’s victory at the Cricket World Cup against Sri Lanka yesterday was nothing short of brilliant,” The Australian said in its editorial.

“But while the team soared to ever greater heights, the Cup itself sank to new lows, with a farcical final that saw players, umpires, commentators and organisers literally groping in the dark.”