Docklands a sea of colour as 2015 Cricket World Cup fixtures announced
(the official launch was held on Tuesday, simultaneously in New Zealand)
Several hundred people eagerly piled into the Peninsula function centre at Docklands on Tuesday morning, as the International Cricket Council (ICC) prepared to announce the venues, pools and fixtures for the 2015 Cricket World Cup, and officially launch the tournament.
Excitement was at fever pitch around the huge hall. Former international stars at the launch included former Sri Lankan opening batsman Sanath Jayasuria, and former Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev. Not to be outdone, the Australian contingent of former wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, pace bowler Clint McKay and a host of others also joined in the festivities. Having Australian greats past and present at the launch reiterated just how strong cricket is in Australia, and the clear showing of support is crucial in changing times for the sport.
With the trophy proudly on display in the main hall, MC Nick McCardle took charge over what was a presentation filled with laughs, questions and most importantly, cricket. Fittingly, it was Australian fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee who opened the proceedings, much to the delight of the crowd.
Ralph Waters, the chairman of the 2015 World Cup, stated that “cricket is a game of partnerships”. His words rang true throughout the room, highlighting just how much a competition like this brings the fans together.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was emphatic in his speech, and declared “together with New Zealand, we will put on a world class event. Thousands of people will come to watch.” It is expected that one billion fans will tune into the final, which will be hosted by the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on March 29th.
Fourteen ICC member nations will contest the World Cup, spread across two pools of seven. Every team will play in both countries, with New Zealand travelling to the MCG if they progress to the final.
The Australian economy looks to receive a huge boost from the legions of supporters set to descend on the two nations from all corners of the globe come the first day of matches.
Fox Sports presenter and commentator Brendon Julian was present at Tuesday’s launch, and is ready to see the World Cup grace our shores for the second time.
“I think Australia is a wonderful country to hold any sporting event, and we’ve seen that recently. I always love the big grounds…having it in New Zealand will add a bit of glamour as well.
“If we get the two best teams in the tournament at the MCG for the final, I have no doubt that not only Melbourne, but people around Australia and New Zealand will back it in.”
Current Australian Twenty20 captain and Tasmanian cricketer George Bailey is hoping that by having the World Cup in Australia it can be an inspiration for a generation of cricketers.
“When you talk to international cricketers, some of their fondest memories are from the World Cup. It is our Olympic Games I guess, it is the one chance where you get pitted against the other countries, and you end up with a clear winner. I think that’s great from a cricket point of view.”
The start of the tournament is still more than 18 months away, but to the cricket tragics, and those who attended the respective launches in Australia and New Zealand, it must feel like just a few days away.