ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 41

Come join the party

The ninth edition of the World’s biggest cricket spectacle will be on show a few hours hence, when the revered West Indian legend Sir Garfield Sobers declares it open at the Trelawny Stadium in Jamaica this evening (Sri Lanka time).

Though West Indies was one of the pioneers in this sport which now has grown into a multi-million industry this is the first time that the nine mainly island nations have been entrusted with the task of putting this event on show which will be watched by millions of people right round the world since it was launched in England 32 years ago in 1975.

This year’s tournament is also significant as it is only on a rare occasion that a tournament is held within the realms of one cricket playing nation besides England who had hosted it on four occasions. However the nine nations who are the co-hosts of this spectacle arguably unite as the West Indies does only when it comes to cricket. The Islands which are known as the English West Indies include --Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis , Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines along with Trinidad and Tobago. However the matches will be played only in the main cricketing centres in the group of islands.

Cricket World Cup volunteers wave to fans in Trelawny, Jamaica, Friday March 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Aman Sharma)

All in all taking the incumbent culture and the day-to-day life in this cosmopolitan society, it’s going to one big ‘Rum and Coca-Cola’ party which will run deep into every night in this beautiful tourist destination. However talking about the tourist destination, accommodation at this archipelago is already a huge problem and it is reported at some of the destinations, the cricket tourists will have to berth themselves in ships off shore and travel to the matches by ferry in the morning and ferry themselves back to their respective ship hotels after the games in the evening. No doubt it is going to be an unforgettable experience.

Coming into the cricket proper, who are the cricketers who will take the centre stage at this ninth edition? Without any argument once could say it would be the four senior citizens who grace the World cup for the fifth time. They could be well termed as the senior citizens of this version of the game and their thirst for success will be very evident as this will be their grand finale.

Youngest among the fifth edition lot is thirty three old the once Indian prodigy who later turned into a run making machine Sachin Tendulkar. Besides this being his fifth appearance in the World Cup he has the honour of playing the most number of ODIs – 381 with a highest score of 186 not out with an average of 44.12 runs per innings. In the second place is Sri Lanka’s own Sanath Jayasuriya who has played two matches less than Tendulkar with a highest score of 189 runs at an average of 32.87. Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq is the next man in with 375 matches to his credit. Inzamam made his name at the 1987 edition in Australia when Pakistan won the World Cup. At present he has made a highest score of 137 not out with an average of 39.67. The fourth in this fifth edition cricketer is home man Brian Lara who has made 290 ODI appearances with a highest score of 169 runs with an average 40.54.

In the second category of the senior citizens come the thirty seven year olds. This time among the regular cricket playing nations there are four cricketers who have reached that ripe old age. Out of the above mentioned, Sanath Jayasuriya, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Brian Lara are already there in this category joining them in this 37 club is Australian fast bowler Glen McGrath who has captured 355 wickets in 239 attempts.

Among the teams which have the most number of accumulated appearances once again India and Sri Lanka come on top with the other Asian giant Pakistan trailing slightly behind. The Indian contingent together has played 2225 matches while Sri Lanka has played 2217. Pakistan’s tally is 1654. Then the South Africans (1591) and Australians (1511) are walking closely while New Zealand and the West Indies are in their own league with 1340 and 1190 matches respectively.

Ironically England who has gone through many a change in the recent past since their 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Sri Lanka on their own back yard with a total of 622 matches stand below Bangladesh who have a total of 717 matches. The last in the list are Zimbabwe who have played a total 522 matches.

These are a few interesting points that we could ponder through the next few days, but, by the middle of next month we are bound to have a good hint about who is going to walk away with cricket’s greatest trophy so far, which is given away once in every four years.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.