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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 March 2007, 07:23 GMT 08:23 UK
Cup bosses blamed for poor crowds
By Paresh Soni and Martin Gough
BBC Sport at the World Cup

West Indies supporters
West Indies want more of their people to turn out and support

World Cup bosses have only themselves to blame for poor attendances, says Caribbean cricket writer Tony Becca.

"The World Cup was not promoted as a West Indian World Cup but as a World Cup for the world," he told BBC Sport.

"They went for north American tourists so much that they ignored the local population," said Becca, who has been covering cricket for 34 years.

"I kept telling them that all the World Cups I've been to, the majority of the crowd has been local."

He continued: "This is why the costing was so high, they assumed huge numbers would come from abroad and they would not need local support."

Grounds in the Caribbean are famous for the vocal home fans, who use musical instruments and conch shells to create a cacophony of noise.

There is also a tradition of other entertainment outside the boundary edge, particularly dancing.

606: DEBATE

But International Cricket Council rules have all but eliminated that and Becca says the effect is deeply saddening.

"When we bid for the World Cup in 1997 we sold it as a Caribbean-style event, which is what this is not," he added.

"I was at my hotel the other day and a pair of English people were expressing their disappointment.

"They said they had heard about cricket in the Caribbean and had saved up to come here but what they had experienced on this trip was like sitting at Lord's."

However, West Indies captain Brian Lara says he does not feel let down by Caribbean fans despite low turn-outs so far.

High ticket prices, security and a focus on foreign visitors have been blamed for the low turn-out, although Lara refused to lay blame.

Against Australia and New Zealand you would think it would be a full house so that was a bit disappointing

Brian Lara

He said: "I don't feel that the people don't want to come out and support. It is [other] circumstances.

"The people, if they're not at the stadium, are watching at home and willing us on."

Lara was buoyed by news Sunday's Super 8 match against Sri Lanka is almost sold out at the new 15,000-seat Guyana National Stadium.

West Indies lost their two second-round games in Antigua and must win at least three of their remaining four matches to gain a semi-final place.

Ahead of their sole appearance in Guyana, Lara said: "This is a very important game for us and hopefully we get the people coming out to watch. It's of the utmost importance.

"Playing at home in the Caribbean, we're accustomed to seeing crowds, especially for one-day internationals.

"Against Australia and New Zealand you would think it would be a full house so that was a bit disappointing."

The Antigua and Barbuda LOC strongly denies claims suggested in the Nation Newspaper that the East stand is 'unsafe'

Official statement

Meanwhile, local organisers in Antigua have denied reports that the East stand at the new Sir Vivian Richards Stadium is unsafe.

No spectators were seated there for the second day of Australia's win over West Indies on Wednesday but the organising committee insists it was only a temporary measure.

A statement issued by the LOC said: "The rains affected many areas of operation including the East stand.

"Reports were made by the safety stewards of persons slipping on the wet stairs. The area was also extremely muddy.

"A decision was made by both the venue operation centre and ticketing to temporarily close the east stand.

"The stand was re-opened for the second match on 29 March.

"The Antigua and Barbuda LOC strongly denies claims suggested in the Nation Newspaper dated 29 March that the east stand is 'unsafe'."



SEE ALSO
West Indies lose the plot
31 Mar 07 |  West Indies
Cricket World Cup 2007 schedule
20 Jul 05 |  Cricket


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