I am a New Zealander. This year is the year of the 2015 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand and Australia. It is a year when after years of negative earthquake publicity it is time to say “Christchurch is open for business”, the Cricket World Cup has not been without its intrigues. Some of the intrigues have been international whilst others involved local interests. So on Thursday night in front of tens of thousands of people in Christchurch, and over two billion globally the I.C.C. Cricket World Cup, a competition that might feature as much as 1/4 of the worlds population got a look in on some very important issues.
Cricket however does have a seedier side to it. One such case is the match fixing scams that are caused by players being asked by bookies to throw matches. Unfortunate, but true. Only a hard line will ever resolve it.
I support them for a number of reasons that commonly get overlooked. Some of them are very obvious such as being my home team, it is only natural. There are others such as I genuinely believe that New Zealand can make it to the Cricket World Cup Final. I support them because over the years I have watched the Black Caps evolve as a team, go through heart break and never quite fill their potential. Finally, based on their current form, New Zealand is fielding the best team I have seen in a generation, which I find frankly exciting to type as a blogger, witness as a supporter and spectator and celebrate as a genuine enthusiast of a sport that is sometimes unfairly maligned. It is hard to see past the likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee or the rapidly maturing middle order of batting
Ten years ago cricket was thrown into the spotlight by the Boxing Day tsunami, which occurred just as Sri Lanka were beginning a tour of New Zealand. That had to be abandoned as the earthquake and tsunami that raced across the ocean wiped entire towns clean from the map. The Cricket world rallied to help Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.
On 22 February 2011 it was Christchurch’s turn to suffer the full force of Mother Nature when a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck the city dead on in the middle of a busy working day. 185 people died and thousands were injured. The huge damage bill will affect the ability of Canterbury cricket to pay their bills in time.
I am particularly happy despite the numerous short comings of the Opening Ceremony that Christchurch, which used to host the headquarters of New Zealand Cricket was given the chance to revive itself on a world stage in front of an appreciative crowd. On Thursday 12 February it hosted the opening ceremony at the same time as Melbourne in Australia. Today Christchurch was given an opportunity to sort out any short comings in the C.W.C. by hosting a live match. The earthquake on 22 February 2011 deprived Christchurch of all of its Rugby World Cup games by damaging beyond repair A.M.I. Stadium, deprived the city of millions of dollars worth of lost revenue. Four years, many tax dollars and quite a few frayed tempers later, in the knowledge that cricket will probably never play at the old A.M.I. stadium again and that the new one is better suited to rugby, the Hagley Oval field, which can accommodate 8,000 spectators and provide a nice scenic backdrop was commissioned.
Tonight I watched the first match between Australia and England. Australia won comfortably by about 111 runs – a substantial defeat in One Day International cricket. That was interesting as there has not been such an open field of contenders in decades. However, Australia need to be more convincing than they have been until the aforementioned 200 run victory if they are to take down the World Cup. In 2003 and 2007, there was no doubt about who would win the World Cup. Now the field is wide open.
So roll on Cricket World Cup 2015, because judging by the enthusiastic West Indies supporters in the building at Bailies Irish Bar and Restaurant tonight, even if their teams show otherwise, the appetite for a change in the cricket world order is substantial.