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The Voyage of Spectacle The Most Expensive Game Ever Played — Part I

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

The Most Expensive Game Ever Played — Part I

 

The Most Expensive Game Ever Played

Part I — Background

As I wrote before, we are fans of the Sri Lanka cricket team.  I should mention that this isn’t a recent allegiance – I’ve been following the team and the players since just after their improbable championship at the 1996 World Cup.  No, I don’t live and die with the fortunes of Sri Lanka cricket, but I really do follow it reasonably closely, and I really do care.

When we planned our trip, we noticed the Sri Lanka v. India Cricket World Cup showdown set for Port of Spain, Trinidad on March 23, 2007.  Although it was too far out of the way to sail the boat, it was only a short flight from St. Lucia, so I bought game tickets nearly a year ago, and we planned our trip around a short flight to Trinidad.

New Zealand Won EasilyEarlier on, we had attended the England v. New Zealand match in St. Lucia, and, to be honest, it was pretty lousy.  There are, of course, no end of jokes about cricket being boring, and I must confess that this match was boring even by cricket standards.  However, in watching the game in person for the first time, two things did standout: (1) the quality of the fielding by New Zealand, which was significantly better than Major League Baseball standards, especially considering that … oh, yeah … they weren’t wearing gloves, and (2) the bowling of Shane Bond (Bond …. Shane Bond), who, despite being probably no taller than 6’0”, is one of the fastest bowlers in the world.  He completely dominated England (and, alas, apparently just the other day totally dominated one of his crucial teammates), allowing only 18 runs in 10 overs (a rate of 30 for 10 overs would be considered excellent, 40 good, 50 mediocre and 60+ poor).  New Zealand manhandled England, so much so that England vice-captain Andrew Flintoff was driven to drunkenly capsizing a pedal-boat at 4:00 a.m. the following morning (about 200 yards from our boat, by the way – we slept through it).  Apparently, he had to be “rescued” from the ocean.  Rescued?  Did they call the Coast Guard?

Flintoff’s late-night swim was the scandal of the tournament for about 24 hours.  Then came the murder of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer, which has essentially overshadowed the entire tournament.  I’ll probably end up writing something about that (and, yes, being down here, I’ve heard some pretty juicy conjecture, but I’ll wait to say more).

The same day that Pakistan lost to Ireland (the equivalent of the U.S. losing to Bolivia in basketball), India (with one of the two or three strongest batting lineups in the world) was held to a measly 191 and upset by lowly (but not as lowly as Ireland) Bangladesh, which had at least six players on the field under the age of 21, including unflappable 17-year-old leadoff batsman Tamim Iqbal, who blasted 51 runs off only 53 balls (that’s outstanding, especially from an opening batter), including launching one off the façade of the second deck (it’s at around the 6:00 mark of the YouTube clip).

This set the stage for a pretty amazing sidebar to the India v. Sri Lanka game.  Because of the loss to Bangladesh, a loss to Sri Lanka would mean India was out of the tournament even before the “Super Eight” round-robin stage, thus missing out on a minimum of SIX more matches.  Given that India (a) has more than 1 billion people and (b) is the most cricket-crazy nation in the world, the potential lost media revenue from those six games has been estimated to be as high as … wait for it … $500 million.  When it comes to money being lost by legitimate “stakeholders” (i.e. not including betting) based upon a game’s outcome, this likely made this particular preliminary-round cricket match The Most Expensive Sporting Event In The History Of The World.

As we headed off to the airport, we were quite happy to know that the stakes had been ramped up from merely big to Incredibly Massive.  We were expecting a good match and a good time.  Little did we know just how fantastic it would be.

For the next installment of “The Most Expensive Game Ever Played,” written by Melissa, click here.


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