Cricket World Cup: Australia eye Olympic-size boost
Australia is anticipating the 11th Cricket World Cup to be the biggest sports event staged in the country since the 2000 Sydney Olympics with ticket sales moving briskly.
Sydney: Australia is anticipating the 11th Cricket World Cup to be the biggest sports event staged in the country since the 2000 Sydney Olympics with ticket sales moving briskly.
Thursday marks 100 days to the February-March tournament to be co-hosted with New Zealand and comprising 49 games across 44 days in 14 cities.
Organisers are hoping a successful staging will revitalise interest in the one-day format of the World Cup, coming under increasing pressure for fans` acceptance from the popular Twenty20 phenomenon.
The World Cup has been going since 1975 but since the advent of T20 internationals in 2005 there have been five world T20 tournaments with the ICC now scheduling one every two years and expanded to 16 teams as opposed to the four-yearly 14-team ODI World Cup.
But Australia is expecting a far different World Cup to the one it co-hosted with New Zealand in 1992 when Imran Khan`s Pakistan beat England in the final before 87,182 people at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
"It will certainly be the biggest event in Australia since the Olympics in 2000," Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said.
"The multicultural aspect is really important. We can see it already in the ticket sales.
"And the fact that our society has changed so much since 1992. Our society reflects the representation we`re going to have here -- countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, UAE, Scotland and Ireland."
World Cup boss John Harnden says the game between South Africa and India at the MCG on February 22 had sold more tickets than the opening match between Australia and England in Melbourne on February 14.
Other popular games include the grudge match between India and Pakistan at Adelaide Oval on the second day of the tournament, for which Harnden said the first allocation of tickets to the public sold out in 20 minutes.
"We have been delighted with the response across the two countries," Harnden said.
In recent years, India has eclipsed China as the biggest source of permanent migration to Australia, and seven of the top 10 source countries are in Asia.
Adding spice to the 2015 World Cup will be the first appearance of Afghanistan as one of four associate countries alongside the 10 full Test playing nations.
Afghanistan are placed in Group A of the competition along with England, Australia and Sri Lanka and face Bangladesh in their opening match in Canberra.
"Afghanistan have beaten Bangladesh in the Asia Cup (this year in Dhaka) and then beating Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe twice and there are chances they can beat Bangladesh again," International Cricket Council (ICC) global development manager Tim Anderson said.
"And if they beat the other associate (Scotland) in their group and one more full member then they can get three wins and go into the next round.
"One thing that has always impressed me about Afghanistan is that the players deal with the pressure really well and in saying that I think the level of expectation from the cricket public in Afghanistan about the team has never been as high as it is now."
Afghanistan, Scotland, Ireland and the UAE all played matches in Australia during September in preparation for next year`s tournament.
South Africa, the No.1 ODI team, should be the team to beat but has yet to win a World Cup.
Hosts Australia are chasing their fifth title after India thwarted their hopes of winning four consecutive World Cups in the quarter-finals of the last 2011 tournament in India.
The West Indies` recent walkout of their Indian tour remains a concern for organisers, but Sutherland is confident it will be resolved long before the tournament starts on February 14.
The West Indies cut short their India tour this month over an internal pay dispute, despite a fifth and final one-day international, a Twenty20 match and three Tests still to be played.