The 13th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup was held in India from 5 October to 19 November 2023. The 45-day long tournament not only saw numerous records being broken but also had its fair share of controversies.
Every edition of World Cup has its share of beautiful moments as well as some woeful forgettable memories, and this World Cup was no different. From the highs of Australia lifting their sixth World Cup title, to the lows of India faltering once again in an ICC World Cup final, from Virat Kohli reaching the milestone of most number of ODI centuries (50) and highest run-getter (765) in a single edition of the ODI World Cup to the lows of a 'flawed' ticketing system, this World Cup had its highs and lows.
Australia won their sixth World Cup title after 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015 thereby proving once again as to why they are the most consistent and most successful side to have played the World Cup.
At a time when doubts are often expressed over the future of the 50-over format, the ODI World Cup in India witnessed a record television viewership of more than 600 million and the digital numbers too saw record numbers, the overall tally more than double that of the 2019 edition.
Virat Kohli who won the “Player of the Tournament” scored the most number of runs (765) in a single World Cup. He also reached the milestone of 50 centuries in an ODI thereby surpassing the legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 49 centuries. The tournament also witnessed a record of sixes (642) in World Cup history.
Although India had hosted three editions of Cricket World Cup in the past – 1987, 1996 and 2011, it was the first World Cup hosted by India on its own and not jointly with other nations.
After losing to Australia in the finals, India once again faltered at the last hurdle in an ICC tournament final. India's dismal record of not winning an ICC trophy since 2013 when the MS Dhoni-led Indian side lifted the Champions Trophy continues. In the last ten years, the 'Men in Blue' reached the finals’ of T20 World Cup (2014), Champions Trophy (2017), World Test Championship (2021 and 2023) and now, 50-over Cricket World Cup (2023). But, faltered when it mattered the most.
Controversy erupted over allegations of a last-minute change in pitch in the semi-final between India and New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. A report claimed that the Indian board decided to go with 'used pitch' for the semi-final encounter, while a 'fresh pitch' was supposed to be put into play earlier. This switch from an untouched pitch to one with prior use sparked controversy among the cricketing fraternity.
After lawyer Vineet Jindal complained about Pakistani journalist Zainab Abbas of posting "derogatory remarks about Hinduism” and “anti-India statements”, based on screenshots of posts made by an account with her name on X (formerly Twitter) in 2014, she was immediately deported to Pakistan due to "security reasons" and also due to amidst fear of facing backlash on social media over alleged anti-India posts.
Despite having ICC accreditation, Pakistani journalists faced considerable delay in their visa approval due to which they missed the first two games of Pakistan in the World Cup. Due to this, they had to cancel their flight tickets and hotel bookings. Not only journalists, Pakistani cricket fans who had already bought match tickets faced visa delays.
The biggest failure of this World Cup was its “flawed” ticketing system. It needed you to rely on a portal that kept crashing out on day one. Also, it didn't show accurate information on waiting and even if you logged in and saw seats, it created problems in picking them especially for India games.
For India matches, whatever the little amount of tickets that were available on the official ticketing website, it got sold out in less than two hours, much to the dismay of millions of cricket fans. There was no transparency over the distribution of tickets.
The Indian cricket body made a huge mistake by delaying the release of the event schedule, then changing the dates of some games, including that of the India versus Pakistan match.
Although the Cricket World Cup saw over a million people attend the tournament, poor attendance especially in games not involving hosts India, reflected poorly on the tournament organisers. The poor spectator turnout in some of the non-India games shocked cricket fans since India is known as a cricket-crazy nation.