Greatest and extravagant cricket show is on

Mar 05 - 11, 2007

The greatest and the most extravagant show of cricket is on. Besides a test of stamina, determination and willpower to add to the bat-and-ball contest the mega event provides a challenge to the organisers. This is the first time that a big event is being held in the Caribbean and the nine host countries have put in a lot of efforts. There are fears of chaos, fears of terrorism and fears of mismanagement but the ball has been set on a roll. The March 13-April 28 provides the most thrilling moments of cricket to the fans around the world. Around 2.2 billion people will be watching the World Cup, glued to their television around the world in all six continents. A lot of money is at stake - not only in the prize money, but for the organisers to improve their facilities in the Caribbean as well as for the business houses which have invested millions of dollars to fetch a chance to do business.

When Ben Brocklehurst, owner of the Cricketer magazine and a former Somerset captain, suggested a multi-nation tournament be played in 1972, a lot of people called it "a dream of a mad man". Brocklehurst wanted the six Test-playing nations then - England, Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand - to join South Africa and a Rest of World team in a 21-match event in September 1972. The International Cricket Conference, as the ICC was known then, rejected the idea but it was not long before England were asked to host the first World Cup in 1975.

The birth of one-day cricket was also accidental. A rain-ruined Test between Australia and England in 1971 resulted in the first one-day international at Melbourne, few believed that this new form of cricket would become a global, money-spinning affair. The first one-dayer was not a pre-planned affair as it was arranged on the last scheduled day of the rain-hit Test to appease the public. It was an instant success, attracting nearly 46,000 spectators to the MCG so the modified form of the instant cricket was the hosting of the World Cup.

Prudential Assurance sponsored the first three events before the World Cup shifted outside England when political and sporting rivals India and Pakistan hosted the 1987 edition. The move came with dramatic changes. Matches were reduced from 60 overs to 50-overs-a-side and the 27 World Cup games were spread over 32 days, almost twice as long as in 1983. The World Cup under-came huge changes when the event was held in Australia in 1992. Coloured clothing and white balls were introduced as Australia and New Zealand played hosts and South Africa made a comeback to the world scene from their apartheid-induced ban. South Africa and the other eight Test nations played each other once in the league phase with the top four advancing to the semi-finals. The number of matches increased from 27 to 39. Holland, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates made their World Cup debut in 1999, Bangladesh also came in 1999 and Namibia and Scotland joined the action in 2003.

The upcoming 16-team World Cup in the Caribbean will last 48 days with 51 matches broadcast live to an estimated worldwide audience of 2.2 billion. The World Cup just keeps getting bigger with more teams, more matches, more money and higher revenue. Clive Lloyd's West Indians pocketed 4,000 British pounds for winning the 1975 World Cup and 10,000 pounds for retaining the title in 1979. The 2007 champions after the final in Barbados on April 28 will take home a cool 2.2 million dollars and the runners-up will be compensated with a million dollars. First-timers Bermuda and Ireland are assured of earning 15,000 dollars each just for stepping on the pitch. Teams losing each first round match will be rewarded with 5,000 dollars. The total prize money for the 2007 World Cup is five million dollars, having grown five-fold since the 1999 edition in England.

The ICC expects to generate revenue worth 235 million dollars after the Caribbean odyssey. The hosting of the Cricket World Cup in 2007 will present many business opportunities to Caribbean firms and so many are positioning themselves to take advantage of this momentous occasion for the region. The Caribbean is a beautiful place and people around the world associate it with paradise on earth and that is a very good drawing card right there. The cricket event provides the Caribbean government to earn revenues through tourists

Between 2006 and 2012 on Jamaica is expecting to see 80 new investment projects as a result of Cricket World Cup 2007 and is targeting revenues of US$3 billion. As far as trade is concerned, Jamaica hopes to see a 5 per cent increase in exports for the six-year period. It is also hoping to see an increase by 10 per cent in tourism visitor expenditure.


Remarkably, very favourite teams, except for the West Indies in 1979 and Australia in 2003, have won the Cup. Australia, being the most dominant side in the world, still looks favourite to complete their hat trick of the World Cup titles. Despite their five defeats in the last one month, Australia has the most balanced team to carry the day. South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka are other favourite teams with India and Pakistan lagging behind.


Fitness and fielding hold the key if Pakistanis want to turn their huge potential into success in the World Cup in the Caribbean. Pakistan have had a dismal build-up to their Cup campaign as question marks hang on the fitness of key bowlers Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul, with fears that none could feature. "The F-factor is crucial, the fitness of the players is concerning," said coach Bob Woolmer. "Our attack could be excellent with Akhtar, Gul, Asif with Danish Kaneria, Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez as back-up bowlers. There is no doubt in my mind if the first three were fit together then Pakistan would be a real force."

Akhtar is battling with a knee injury while Asif may have a recurrence of an elbow problem. The pair is also required to clear pre-World Cup dope tests, the reports of which were to come on March 1. If they fail they face possible life bans. Both were banned for doping in November after testing positive for the steroid nandrolone but they had their bans controversially lifted on appeal. Gul, one of Pakistan's best bowlers over the last 12 months, has regained full fitness but losing allrounder Abdul Razzaq is a huge blow to Pakistan's chances. Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, who was one of the flops of the last World Cup with just 19 runs in six matches, said gruelling schedules had taken their toll on the players. "Even a batsman like me finds it hard to keep the level of fitness, so it is worse for the fast bowlers. We need to have the best and fittest players for the World Cup," said Inzamam, a member of Pakistan's only side to win the World Cup in Australia in 1992. Despite luring former South African fielding maestro Jonty Rhodes for a two-week training stint last year, the Pakistanis still lack agility and accuracy in the field. Wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal had a dismal period as he fumbled catches and erred in stumpings and needs confidence. With continuous problems top of the order, Inzamam, Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan will be under constant pressure to score. Dashing allrounder Shahid Afridi and Malik can destroy any attack - on their day. However, Afridi will miss the first two matches in the Caribbean after being hit with a suspension following an altercation with a fan in South Africa. Pakistan are in the same group as the West Indies, Zimbabwe and debutants Ireland in the first round. They are capable of crossing the first hurdle, but the round of eight will present the real test.


(Total previous appearances, first appearance, best result, played-won-lost-tied-no result):


8 1975 Champions (1987, 1999, 2003) 58-40-17-1-0

West Indies:

8 1975 Champions (1975, 1979) 48-31-16-0-1


8 1975 Champions (1983) 55-31-23-0-1


8 1975 Champions (1992) 53-29-22-0-2

Sri Lanka:

8 1975 Champions (1996) 46-17-27-1-1


8 1975 Runners-up (1979, 1987, 1992) 50-31-18-0-1

New Zealand:

8 1975 Semi-finals (1975, 1979, 1992, 1999) 52-28-23-0-1


6 1983 Super Six (1999, 2003) 42-08-31-0-3

South Africa:

4 1992 Semi-finals (1992, 1999) 30-19-09-2-0


3 1996 Semi-finals (2003) 20-05-14-0-1


2 1999 Round One 11-02-08-0-1


2 1979 Round One 09-01-08-0-0


2 1996 Round One 11-01-10-0-0


1 1999 Round One 05-00-05-0-0

Note: Bermuda and Ireland playing in their first World Cup


March 11: Opening ceremony (Trelawny Stadium, Jamaica)


Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

A1: Australia

B1: Sri Lanka

C1:New Zealand

D1: Pakistan

A2: South Africa

B2: India

C2: England

D2: West Indies

A3: Scotland

B3: Bangladesh

C3: Kenya

D3: Zimbabwe

A4: Holland

B4: Bermuda

C4: Canada

D4: Ireland


Group A - St Kitts (Matches start 1330GMT)
Group B - Trinidad and Tobago (Matches start 1330GMT)
Group C - St. Lucia (Matches start 1330GMT)
Group D - Jamaica (Matches start 1430GMT)


Tue 13 Mar WIS v PAK
Wed 14 Mar AUS v SCO, KEN v CAN
Thu 15 Mar SRI v BER, ZIM v IRL
Fri 16 Mar RSA v NED, ENG v NZL
Sat 17 Mar IND v BAN, PAK v IRL
Sun 18 Mar AUS v HOL, ENG v CAN
Mon 19 Mar IND v BER, WIS v ZIM
Tue 20 Mar RSA v SCO, NZL v KEN
Wed 21 Mar SRI v BAN, ZIM v PAK
Thu 22 Mar SCO v NED, NZL v CAN
Fri 23 Mar IND v SRI, WIS v IRL
Sat 24 Mar AUS v RSA, ENG v KEN
Sun 25 Mar BER v BAN

Super Eight Series (top two from each group progress though none from the same group play each other in Super Eights.)

Tue 27 Mar D2 v A1
Wed 28 Mar A2 v B1
Thu 29 Mar D2 v C1
Fri 30 Mar D1 v C2
Sat 31 Mar A1 v B2
Sun 01 Apr D2 v B1
Mon 02 Apr B2 v C1
Tue 03 Apr D1 v A2
Wed 04 Apr C2 v B1
Sat 07 Apr B2 v A2
Sun 08 Apr A1 v C2
Mon 09 Apr D1 v C1
Tue 10 Apr D2 v A2
Wed 11 Apr C2 v B2
Thu 12 Apr B1 v C1
Fri 13 Apr A1 v D1
Sat 14 Apr A2 v C1
Sun 15 Apr B2 v D1
Mon 16 Apr A1 v B1
Tue 17 Apr A2 v C2
Wed 18 Apr D1 v B1
Thu 19 Apr D2 v B2
Fri 20 Apr A1 v C1
Sat 21 Apr D2 v C2


Tue 24 Apr Super Eight 2 v Super Eight 3 Jamaica
Wed 25 Apr Super Eight 1 v Super Eight 4 St Lucia


Sat 28 Apr