2015 ICC WCup launched
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) - Children mingled with cricketing greats in "backyard" matches and Maori warriors shared the stage with dancers as the Cricket World Cup opened yesterday with a vibrant and quirky ceremony in Christchurch.
Thousands of fans crammed leafy Hagley Park to see the launch of the first World Cup in New Zealand and Australia in 23 years, the formal part of which began with a lone bagpiper and ended with a booming fireworks display - the biggest in the city's history.
The World Cup is the largest event Christchurch has hosted since an earthquake in February 2011 devastated the city's centre - only a few hundred yards from where Thursday's festivities took place, claiming the lives of 185 people.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the earthquake robbed Christchurch of the chance of hosting the Rugby World Cup and it was "only fitting" that it should be chosen to host the opening of the Cricket World Cup. He said the opening ceremony was a way of telling the world that Christchurch is "back in business."
International Cricket Council chief executive David Richardson unveiled the Cricket World Cup trophy, saying it was a symbol of the ICC's values of excellence, integrity and inclusion.
Hagley Oval, which will host tomorrow's opening match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, has hosted first class cricket matches since 1867 but was extensively redeveloped since to become the city's international cricket venue after the earthquake wrecked Lancaster Park.
The captains of the teams currently in New Zealand were presented to the crowd.
South Africa captain A.B. de Villiers told fans that while the Proteas had never won the World Cup "we're as well prepared as we can be and we look forward to taking the trophy home."
Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza, whose team plays South Africa in their opening match on Sunday, said while the odds were against his team "the good thing about this tournament is the team that plays the best cricket on the day will win the match."
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said his team's opening match against New Zealand tomorrow is "going to be a tough contest, it's going to be an even contest and whoever plays the best cricket will win."
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who lives in Christchurch said "having the first game of the World Cup here in Christchurch after all it's been through is fantastic."