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ICC apologises for farcical final

International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed has apologised for the farcical end to Saturday's World Cup final but ruled out blacklisting the erring officials.

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

"It was unfortunate, a very sad way to finish the World Cup. I hope we can recall the great day's cricket we had before this very unfortunate ending," Speed told reporters at the Kensington Oval on Sunday.

Flanked by ICC general manager David Richardson, Speed said, "David and I are here today on behalf of ICC to say to the wider stakeholders of the game that we too are very sorry this incident occurred at the end of what, on any view, had been an outstanding day of cricket."

In the rain-marred final, on-field umpires Steve Bucknor, standing in his record fifth World Cup final, and Aleem Dar overlooked the fact that once 20 overs had been bowled in both the innings, a result should have been declared under the Duckworth/Lewis method.

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Instead, they made the teams return to the field to play another three overs in semi-darkness at the end of which Australia won the match beating Sri Lanka by 53 runs.

Despite the embarrassing goof-up, Speed, however, ruled out an immediate censure for the playing-control unit, which also included third umpire Rudy Koertzen, reserve official Billy Bowden and match referee Jeff Crowe.

"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.

"I saw Jeff Crowe this morning, he came up to me and said 'I am very sorry about yesterday), we are all very sorry about yesterday, it shouldn't have happened'," Speed said.

Richardson also had no explanation for the gaffe.

"We've tried to come up with an explanation and we can't. We've spoken to them (the officials) and they are at a loss to try to explain," he said.

Crowe has revealed that Koertzen had initiated the confusion which led to the entire fiasco and Richardson said, "I think that's quite correct."

Though Speed said there won't be any over-reaction to the issue, Richardson said, "Malcolm has said we are not going to over-react but we are certainly going to take it very seriously and look at how it could have happened."

Speed, meanwhile, refused to compare it to last year's Oval Test embarrassment where Pakistan forfeited the Test match against England after refusing to take the field protesting a five-run penalty for ball-tampering. ICC had subsequently barred Australian umpire Darrell Hair from officiating in international matches.

"After The Oval issue, there was a very comprehensive review of all the match officials who had been involved in that incident. We will go through a similar process here," Speed said.

Amid all the chaos, Speed, however, found a silver lining in the fact that the World Cup had left an enduring legacy of new cricket grounds across the Caribbean.

"West Indies now has this collection of five-star cricket grounds. So when Australia comes here next year, they're going to have an almighty argument about where Australia play their Test matches and one-day internationals," Speed said.

Speed also welcomed the idea of hosting other sports in the venues to make the stadia financially viable.

"The MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) has far more days of Australian rules football than it does cricket. Cricket grounds in other parts of the world are multi-purpose with other sports and functions staged on them.

"Whether it's baseball or soccer, that's fine as long as it is available to cricket when cricket needs it."

Speed also hoped that the World Cup would have wiped out the debt of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).

"I don't know how great that surplus is, but read (WICB President) Ken Gordon believes that it will wipe out the debt. That's one of the legacies I am very happy about."

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