By Davis Harrigan
Details of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, which will be jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, were announced on 30 July 2013 at simultaneous events in Melbourne and the New Zealand capital, Wellington. The Prime Ministers from both countries as well as a number of local and international cricketing legends were in attendance.
New Zealand will square off against 1996 champion Sri Lanka in the tournament opener in Christchurch, while later on the same day, under the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) floodlights, four-time former champion Australia will go head-to-head with arch rival England.
The two pools for the initial stage of the tournament, based on the Reliance ICC ODI rankings on 31 December 2012 are:
• Pool A: England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Qualifier 2 and Qualifier 3
• Pool B: South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Qualifier 4
As a result, Australia and New Zealand are in the same pool. Australia will travel to New Zealand to play the Blackcaps at Eden Park on 28 February, while, if New Zealand makes it through to the final, it will play in Melbourne on 29 March. This means all of the teams in the tournament will play in both countries if they want to lift the trophy.
Pakistan, victor of the 1992 tournament when it was last hosted in the Antipodes, will be striving to reach the heights of Imran Khan’s team, and will meet defending champion India at the Adelaide Oval on 15 February. South Africa, ever the master of the 50-over format, has Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander in its bowling stocks.
Across the Tasman, Wellington Regional Stadium will see England, who is yet to secure an ICC Cricket World Cup title, play both New Zealand and Sri Lanka, while the ground will also host a quarter-final.
The West Indies, Kings of the Caribbean, will grace the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) turf to play South Africa on 27 February. The SCG will host one of the semi-finals; Eden Park in Auckland is the other semi-final venue.
Ireland is the first of four Associate countries to qualify, having sealed top position in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) in July. Having surprised the cricketing world by defeating England at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, the William Porterfield-captained side is a real chance to have a run to the final and undoubtedly the large Irish community in both countries will be out in full force.
Three more spots remain open for the qualifying nations, and the next team will be known in October. Afghanistan, Netherlands, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates are still all in the competition to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup.
More than one billion people worldwide are expected to tune in to the tournament in 2015, the 40th anniversary and eleventh edition, which will be the largest sporting event around the world of that year.
With 49 matches spanning 44 days across Australia and New Zealand, there will be something for everyone. For full details on the fixture click here and don’t forget to get your friends to register for the latest news, competitions and ticketing information.