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By Bharat Sharma
New Delhi: Jun 13, 2014
Australia and New Zealand are looking to build on the spectacular show that India pulled off four years ago along with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, says ICC 2015 World Cup CEO John Harnden, who feels the troika set the bar sky high in the previous edition.
Harnden has been assigned with the task of building on the success of four years ago when India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh combined to stage an exciting World Cup.
“Everyone is really excited about the World Cup. A lot of it is about building on the success of the last World Cup in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It was the most successful World Cup ever, watched by more than a billion people. We want to build on that success,” Harnden told PTI here at the launch of Match Australia, an initiative to connect the country’s business with global partners through major sporting events.
The Trans-Tasman rivals host the Cup for the first time since 1992 and Harnden assured it will be a tournament to remember.
“The sport has grown tremendously since Australia-New Zealand last hosted the event. The viewership is much more now. There are enormous expectations in Australia and New Zealand for the tournament.
“We are not looking at the challenge thinking we got to do better than India, it is more about building on it,” said Harnden, who was also the chief executive of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games and Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix Corporation.
A large number of Indian fans are expected to travel to to the two countries and join the Indian community in cheering their national team during the February 14 to March 29 showpiece event. Harnden believes a single visa policy will attract “hundreds of thousands of cricket lovers”.
“The single visa policy will ensure a very easy travel process for the visitors.” The Adelaide Oval in South Australia will be one of the 14 venues and the action there begins with the high-octane India-Pakistan clash on February 15. Harnden says it was not a surprise that tickets for general public were sold out in 20 minutes.
“Hundreds of thousands of Indians fans will be present at the World Cup. The attendance will obviously depend on how they progress. The stadium will be full when India play Pakistan at 50,000 capacity Adelaide Oval. We expect the same for their game against South Africa at MCG, which can accommodate more than 100,000 fans.”
Though India are never short of fan support anywhere around the world, the CEO reveals they have been working with expat communities of all the 14 participating countries to make the players feel at home.
“We have got 14 countries competing so this is about making every game a home game for the teams. For India matches, we are working very closely with the Indian community in Australia and New Zealand.”
The Indian team will spend a long time Down Under as it plays a Test series against Australia before the World Cup. “It could be both positive and negative for India. They will play four Tests which means enough time to adjust to the conditions. The negative could be that they would be spending a lot of time away from home.”
“Having said that, they remain of the favourites to win the tournaments besides Australia. You can’t ignore the likes of South Africa and Sri Lanka too,” said Harnden.
Asked about the security cover for the players in the context of the possible nefarious elements surrounding the competition and the ever-lasting fear of match-fixing, Harnden was confident of a corruption free tournament.
“We work closely with the ICC on each and every matter. Match-fixing is one of them. Our focus is on putting up a good show as the ICC works closely with the local government to check on any corrupt practice,” he said.
His advice for the fans, who want to visit Australia and New Zealand during the cricketing extravaganza, is that too get tickets as soon as possible. “I just want say to people if you want to come to Australia and New Zealand, get your tickets now and you can be assured of a very warm welcome,” Harnden concluded.
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