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Speed sorry for World Cup farce

01 May, 2007

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LONDON: International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed has apologised for the umpire error which led to the farcical ending of the World Cup.

But he has insisted the ICC will not "over-react" to the umpires' mis-interpretation of the playing conditions on Saturday.

None of the umpires, nor match referee Jeff Crowe, realised it took only 20 overs a side to constitute a match.

"We are all very sorry, it shouldn't have happened," Speed said.

"We very sincerely apologise for the error that was made.

"It was an unnecessary error, a fundamental error; it was made under difficult circumstances at the end of the match."

It's not a good image for the game, it was unfortunate - a very sad way to finish the World Cup.

Rain had hampered the final with the start of the match in Barbados delayed for more than two hours and then reduced to 38 overs per side.

Australia smashed 281-4 in their innings and in reply Sri Lanka struggled to keep up with the required rate under the Duckworth/Lewis rain calculations.

The batsmen went off for bad light with 2.5 overs to go and Australia started celebrating, believing they had won.

But confusion over the playing conditions by on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Steve Bucknor, reserve umpires Rudi Koertzen and Billy Bowden and Crowe saw Australia wrongly told to take to the field again - in near darkness - to bowl the remaining balls.

Australia eventually won their third consecutive World Cup by 53 runs under the Duckworth/Lewis method.

Speed said the ICC would not be seeking resignations or considering dismissals.

He said: "They certainly do have a future in the game.

"We are not going to over-react to this. The umpires and Jeff Crowe, they had earned the right to umpire in the World Cup Final because they are outstanding umpires and an outstanding referee."

Speed acknowledged the potential public-relations damage of the bizarre ending.

"It's not a good image for the game," he said.

"It was unfortunate - a very sad way to finish the World Cup."

He will get no argument on that score from Sri Lanka coach Moody - who hinted too that he would like to see extra provision for the availability of a full 100 overs in the event of bad weather, rather than always trying to shoe-horn a result into one day.

"It is disappointing that you spend two months playing in a World Cup to get to a final and, firstly, you can't play 100 overs to complete the match," said Moody.

"That seems a bit of a puzzle itself; potentially we could have played a Twenty20 for the World Cup final.

"I personally don't think that is quite fitting for the event - particularly after not only the two months in the Caribbean but the two years you have spent preparing for it."

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