The 2015 cricket World Cup was launched today. Twice. Simultaneously in Wellington and Melbourne. Two Prime Ministers were present. And, at Pool Play level anyway, it is a masterclass of fairness.
Both countries will use seven cities for hosting matches at this stage. Each of these cities will host three matches. The six Australian states plus Canberra get a host city each. In New Zealand each of the major associations get a host city with Central Districts, the only association to span the Cook Strait getting one in each island.
It can’t get more democratic than that. For example, Nelson, Brisbane and Perth get to host the same number of games.
So clearly, this is a good result for New Zealand. There was talk that Australia’s starting position was a 28-14 split. A lot of the credit for this would appear to go to Therese Walsh, head of the NZ Organising committee.
There were two cautionary notes to the launch. The first was the reminder that at the end of 2012 New Zealand was ranked ninth in ODI rankings, one behind Bangladesh. As it happens, numbers 8 and 9 were always seeded to end up in the same pool so it didn’t really matter.
The other was the Christchurch situation. To be given the opening match, and New Zealand v Sri Lanka is a big game, is a nice touch. However the Christchurch guests at the launch weren’t in the mood for counting chickens. On the flip side, at least this decision will give the Environment Court a tickle-up.
The real surprise was the elevation of Nelson onto the scene. But that is proof that if you build a proper ground, with proper facilities, you will be rewarded. Saxton Ground is now rated as good as anywhere in New Zealand, and is likely to host international cricket this summer. Napier, you are on notice.
So, as far as South Island is concerned, that’s two grounds that have yet to host an ODI with University Oval having hosted two. That is unusually bold for New Zealand, but it actually gives the schedule a fresh feel.
John Key’s speech came across as being given by a guy who had just got off the plane from Korea. There was a Dad Joke about hitting Shane Warne “from one end of the pitch to the other” before telling us he was looking forward to the “Rugby I mean Cricket World Cup”.
When taking questions he was a lot more relaxed, but then that is possibly because he was sitting next to these two.
And even more relaxed here.