Calypso cricket carnival in the Caribbean


THE modern day cricket's biggest four-yearly carnival begins today in the land of calypso music. The ICC Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean is the biggest in the tournament's history in every sense. With 16 teams two more than in 2003 taking part, the mutli-coloured festival is stretched to 47 days, making it the longest event in mainstream sport. It's more than twice as long as the Tour de France. Three times the length of the Olympics. Nearly three weeks longer than football's World Cup.

In terms of money, the total prize money for the 2007 World Cup is US$5 million having grown five-fold since the 1999 edition in England.

The 2007 champions after the final in Barbados on April 28 will take home a cool US$2.2 million and the runners-up will pocket US$1 million. Even first-timers Bermuda and Ireland are assured of earning US$15,000 each just for stepping on the pitch. Teams losing each first round match will be rewarded with US$5,000.

In the first World Cup Clive Lloyd's West Indians took home £4,000 for winning the 1975 World Cup and £10,000 for retaining the title in 1979.

The ICC expects to generate revenue worth US$235 million after the Caribbean odyssey.

Although many have questioned the rationale behind increasing the number of teams to 16, what makes this edition of the World Cup different is the atmosphere in which cricket will be played.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed has said the cricketing world will descend on the Caribbean fully expecting to savour the unique cricket atmosphere for which the region has become renowned.

In fact, he has disclosed that the celebratory phenomenon, familiarly called "calypso cricket", is one of the factors which led to the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) being given the nod to host the 2007 World Cup.

"That's part of the reason why this (Cricket)World Cup was awarded to the West Indies that spirit of enjoyment; the festivities that we see around cricket matches in this part of the world that was part of the attraction," acknowledged Speed at a Press conference in Trinidad recently.

Responding to media queries about whether traditional aspects of Caribbean culture such as party stands, deejays, winer girls and musical entourages will be allowed at CWC matches, Speed replied emphatically: "We welcome it and it will be part of the festival that will be the Cricket World Cup."

Since Caribbean cricket is synonymous with music, Caribbean Party, the official music album of the World Cup, has been launched.

"Music is synonymous with cricket in the Caribbean and therefore it's only fitting that there is an official album for the biggest tournament ever to be held in the region," said World Cup marketing manager Damon Leon.

"These tracks are a salute to the lifestyle that people in the West Indies enjoy and the passionate bond between cricket and West Indians," Leon added.

The Cup starts on Tuesday, but real cricket will begin on March 27 when the tense Super Eight phase will commence.

Many have questioned the wisdom of bringing in more teams into the World Cup lest it lowers playing standards. Of the 16 in the tournament, six are non-Test playing nations. But television bosses, who usually have the final say in such matters, can't wait for the day when the field is increased to 32 teams like in the football World Cup.

"Cricket needs to evolve," said Nimbus chairperson Harish Thawani, who paid a whopping US$612 million to win the marketing rights for Indian cricket for the next four years.

The teams: Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, India, England, West Indies, Scotland, Bangladesh, Kenya, Zimbabwe, The Netherlands, Bermuda, Canada and Ireland.The Brunei Times

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