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Local cricket fans here in the West Indies, as well as commentators and followers of the game feel so.

Tournament organisers are putting on a brave face, saying they are not faring badly at all.

But the unexpected early exits of India and Pakistan, the poor performance of the hosts and the shocking murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer cast a cloud over the tournament's prospects early on.

Then there have been allegations about the organisers dampening the Caribbean carnival spirit of cricket watching by not allowing musical instruments inside the grounds.

They are also accused of making the event unaffordable for many fans with steep prices for tickets, stadium food and merchandise.

Organisers now accept the 16-nation, 51-match tournament over a marathon 49 days will not be able to meet the targeted $42m in ticket sales.

By Wednesday, at the tail-end of the Super 8 matches, only $29m worth of tickets had been sold.

"It is not likely that we are going to meet the target. If India and Pakistan had continued playing, and the West Indies had performed better it would have a better story," Stephen Price, the tournament's financial chief told the BBC.

"We have done our best and we can only move [things] so much and no more."

Pricing

The ticket prices are $25-$100 for the Super Eight matches, $25-$130 for the semi-finals and $100-$300 for the final on 28 April.

Organisers say they have been trying to sell as many cheap tickets as possible.

They say for the Super 8 matches in Barbados, the lowest $25 tickets were made available for more than 11,000 of the 27,000 seats.

"We believe the pricing was right," says Mr Price.

But still the organisers had to distribute 6,000 tickets free to fans during the match between Ireland and Bangladesh.

Many Indian and Pakistani fans had snapped up 22,334 tickets for this match in advance, assuming it would be the clash of the South Asia rivals.

But the fans didn't turn up when their teams crashed out early.

Barbados is one of four venues for the Super 8 matches and is staging the final.

The island was expecting 5,500 Indian visitors for these games.

But Petra Roach of the Barbados Tourism Authority says only 800 have turned up.

The rest cancelled their expensive packages, preferring to suffer substantial losses rather then making a trip with no team to root for.

Barbados tourism authorities had actually made four trips to India in the run-up to the tournament to woo cricket fans and tourists alike. "Hotels have been hit, packages have been cancelled," says Ms Roach.

'For foreigners'

Even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is sceptical of the impact of the World Cup on the Caribbean economy.

A new IMF report says the governments in the nine countries staging the tournament have spent a fortune.

Five new stadiums were built and others were upgraded altogether at a cost of $250m, and more money was spent on improving infrastructure.

Some of the stadiums were built with grants.

"The long-term net impact of the World Cup is unclear, especially in light of the associated fiscal costs," says the report.

The IMF believes the economic benefits of the tournament are "likely to be diluted" as matches are being played in different countries, and are taking place in the middle of the peak winter tourist season when occupancy rates are already high.

Add to this is the fact that public investment in the Caribbean has, according to the IMF, "shown a relatively weak link with growth" and the picture of relative gloom is complete.

Former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell says the ninth cricket World Cup has been a "public relations disaster".

"Bickering over ticket prices and draconian measures to exclude musical instruments from the grounds has seen many matches played in a sterile environment and sparsely populated stadiums," says Mr Chappell.

Retired transport worker Roy Drakes has spent a lifetime watching cricket in the islands.

He says the tournament has been "robbed of the Caribbean flavour".

"That's the reason behind the attendance being poor. People would come here to savour in the local experience.

"But the organisers shut out musical instruments etc in the opening matches and sell hugely expensive food inside."

The organisers say they never banned musical instruments but only asked the fans to get permission from the local organising committees before taking them in.

But when they finally let fans in with musical instruments - at the Bangladesh-South Africa match in Guyana on 7 April - it was a tacit admission the move had not gone down well with the fans.

As Rickey Singh, a Barbadian journalist, says: "It looks like the World Cup was a bad joke - to have imposed exorbitant ticket fees, treat musical instruments as weapons of terror, restrict drinks and food containers at matches."

That, many feel, violated the spirit of Caribbean cricket and turned local fans off.

"It's not for us, it's for the foreigners," says taxi driver Susan Joseph.
 

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Flop in all sections

good worldcup for Bang & Irelanf though, gr8 performance by them

MUREDER of the coach, wheres the security

have u ever heard such a thing b4
 

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I think it was definatley a flop. Lack of media is one thing to put it down to sure Cricket is not about media and there were a few adds but they could have advertised and hyped it up so much more.

The ending i think was the biggest disappointment with the whole lighting situation, you would think they would have every thing in order for a huge event like that.

Also with the Coach of Pakistan being killed i mean what message is that sending to every one. With the record of that hotel you would expect the people who arrange this kind of thing to reconsider the place of residence during the cup.
 
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