Cricket World Cup 2015: Overview

The 2015 Cricket World Cup offers sports fans a chance to visit one of the most passionate sporting countries on Earth.

Watched by an estimated quarter of the world's population - an audience of over two billion - the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup is the perfect opportunity to experience the buzz of a high stakes global sports event with ample time to explore a relatively small yet stunningly diverse country in between.

Battle for world crown

Held every four years, the world's top 14 One-Day International (ODI) teams battle for the world crown, the honours so hard fought that even the world's greatest cricketers treasure that rare moment in their career when a winner's medal is draped around their neck.

Despite being great traditional rivals on the pitch, New Zealand is co-hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup with Australia and, cricket being New Zealand's national summer game, there will not be a corner of the country where you won't be able to strike up a conversation about winners and wickets.

It's an event sports-mad Kiwis are already looking forward to so if you love your cricket, expect to be welcomed to the nationwide party celebrating the event taking place in New Zealand.

Premier showcase

This is only the second time that the county has ever hosted the premier showcase - and no Kiwi cricket fan has forgotten the excitement of 1992 when the Cricket World Cup first visited these shores.

That's when New Zealand's side, brilliantly led by Kiwi batting great Martin Crowe, quickly established itself as the hottest team of the tournament, winning seven games on the trot to storm into the semi-finals. This wildly exceeded pre-tournament expectations and captured the imagination of both home fans and cricket aficionados around the world.

New Zealand had never won the coveted title, so you can imagine the excitement. However, hopes and dreams came dramatically unstuck in the sudden death semi-final at Auckland's famous Eden Park when Crowe pulled up lame while batting.

He had torn his hamstring, sidelining him from the rest of the game and a stand-in captain having to take his place when it was their turn to field. Without its star tactician, New Zealand lost the big match to Pakistan - who carried on to claim the Cup for their first time by beating England in the final.

New Zealand's finest

Now known as the BLACKCAPS, two decades have followed and still New Zealand's finest players haven't got their hands on the magnificent silver and gilt trophy - but they have made a habit of punching above their weight.

Familiar pitch conditions, dictated by climate and soil types, create a slight home advantage in cricket so ardent supporters will be hoping the BLACKCAPS can at last emulate their world champion rugby cousins the All Blacks.

Comprised of 50 overs per side (each over consisting of six balls from the bowler), a One-Day International match is renowned as a great value-for-money summer sporting event that often goes down to the wire.

In a tight match, batsmen come under increasing pressure to hit big and high into the crowd, while bowlers and fielders must stay right on top of their game in a sport where the slightest miscalculation usually ends badly.

Major countries competing

First staged in 1975, the 2015 Cricket World Cup tournament will be the 40th anniversary event with title-holders India among the exciting major countries competing.

Spectators can take in all New Zealand has to offer with 27 matches shared among the seven host cities: Auckland, Hamilton, Napier and Wellington in the North Island and Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin in the spectacular south. So much to see, do and explore between the big games, all on the doorstep of the host venues.

The action begins on 14 February 2015 and Eden Park will, once again, host a semi-final on 24 March. There's nothing like being there - and cricket fans won't want to miss the excitement.