The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Youíve got to have dreams and aspirations: Bacher

Johannesburg: Itís no exaggeration that more people recognise Dr Ali Bacher, executive director of World Cup 2003, than South Africaís newest captain ó Graeme Smith. In fact, Dr Bacher (himself a former captain) probably signs more autographs, with just about everybody appreciating his stellar role in the tournamentís superb conduct.

Despite being pressed for time, Dr Bacher spoke to The Telegraph for around 15 minutes Sunday morning. Excerpts:

Your emotions on the last morning of the World Cup

A Iím feeling quite sad... Itís not for me to say whether or not the event has been successful, but my feedback from the Ďmarketí is that itís been a hit. So, I feel nice too... We, in the organising committee, wanted World Cup 2003 to be bigger than cricket and weíve been successful.

What made it a hit'

Look, youíve got to have dreams... Youíve got to have aspirations... We wanted this to be the best ever and worked towards that. I personally went to the Sydney Olympics to see the arrangements. Once there, I even went to the toilets in the facilities and was struck by the cleanliness... I was also impressed with the volunteersí network. That trip was an eye- opener and got me excited. Looking back, we had to sell cricket as well as South Africa.

About the precedent set by appointing World Cup ambassadors

Again, the idea surfaced in Sydney... I was at a boxing bout, where an announcement was made about Dawn Fraserís arrival... The people simply erupted... It was an unusual experience and, so, I decided to give the stalwarts ó from different disciplines ó a formal role.

Whether he ever felt the Zimbabwe (and Kenya) crisis could have jeopardised the tournament

No, for the simple reason that only a couple of matches were affected. Moreover, I was personally lifted by the huge support for the World Cup in our country... For instance, over 17,000 watched the Bangladesh-Kenya game at The Wanderers... It was unbelievable. Our marketing strategy was to get the people behind the event. I would like to think we were successful.

Whether the Player Terms row, involving the Indian cricketers, gave him sleepless nights

(Laughs) I was always confident the best team would come... A billion and more Indians wouldnít have allowed a second-string... (After a pause) That India reached the final has taken away much of the disappointment of South Africa not even progressing to the Super Six... If I may add, every vendor wanted India to go the distance... For them, it was a nice commercial proposition.

How did you react to September 11 (2001)'

By immediately proposing a huge outlay for security... From next to nothing, it went up to rands 17 million... We had to get CCTVs, metal detectors, a bigger presence of private security... In fact, even the government pitched in so very strongly... The perception about our police isnít good but, in the World Cup, they were fantastic... One bomb could have ended the tournament, yet nothing untoward happened. No drunken behaviour, nobody running on to the playing area...

Whether he feared the Hansie Cronje scandal, which broke in April 2000, would mar the World Cup

It was evident a healing process had to get underway and that the sport would move on... Thatís how the cookie crumbled but, yes, Iím sad that Hansie had to live with the scandal in the last two years of his life.

Whether, at the start of the Eighties, when he was into organising rebel tours, heíd ever dreamt of hosting a World Cup

To be honest, I didnít even expect apartheid to end in my lifetime... Whatís happened in this country is a miracle... Politically, otherwise...

The lessons South African cricket needs to learn from the success of World Cup 2003

Plain and simple, thereís a need to cash in on the huge upswing in interest. Moving in the right direction, now, will fetch dividends in years to come. Off the field, it hasnít been a good period for our cricket... Therefore, this is the time to sustain everybodyís interest, specially the blacksí.

Where do you go now'

(Emotionally, after a pause) Donít know... Iíd disciplined myself not to think of the future... I wonít be back with the United Cricket Board of South Africa, thatís for sure... Internationally, if people want me, I will consider if something does come up. However, let me tell you, Iím not going to lobby for anything.

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