New Zealand’s love affair with cricket hits an all-time high today (14.2.2014) as the country celebrates 12 months to go until the opening match of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Countdown clocks started ticking in the seven host cities around New Zealand as giant cricket balls were rolled out to show the world that a warm Kiwi welcome awaits visitors arriving for the major event next year.
New Zealand’s host cities are Auckland, Hamilton, Napier and Wellington in the North Island and Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin in the South Island.
Giant cricket ball
A giant inflatable cricket ball has also been bouncing around New Zealand’s top holiday spots to spread news of the forthcoming World Cup and give visitors a glimpse of what awaits them.
Prime Minister John Key became the first person to show his passion for cricket and New Zealand by signing the giant ball at the Basin Reserve - Wellington’s famous cricket ground - at a reunion of New Zealand’s 1992 squad during the NZ vs India test match.
It is 23 years since New Zealand last hosted the Cricket World Cup and the tournament has now become one of the biggest sporting events in the world. A million people are expected to attend matches and another billion to watch on television.
One the green
New Zealand will co-host the 2015 World Cup with Australia and tickets to all matches go on general sale at 2pm today - making 14 February a fitting St Valentine’s Day present for cricket fans around the world keen to combine world class cricket with a dream holiday to New Zealand.
The ICC Cricket World Cup’s 49 match schedule is set to be played from 14 February - 29 March 2015, and New Zealand will play host to the 14 teams from every competing nation. The opening game will be played between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at Hagley Oval in the South Island city of Christchurch.
Showcasing New Zealand
The tournament is a valuable opportunity to showcase New Zealand as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and further cement the country’s reputation for successfully hosting major sporting events.
Tourism New Zealand’s Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says the event is about taking the attention New Zealand gains as host of the event and using it to tell the world that New Zealand is a beautiful place to visit, with friendly people and unforgettable experiences .
"Our message to the millions of cricket fans is that the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup offers the unique chance to experience the buzz of a global sports event that allows ample time to explore a stunningly diverse and beautiful country in between matches.
"New Zealand’s compact nature simplifies travel and makes it easy to access all venues while experiencing diverse landscapes and a variety of visitor attractions along the way."
Countrywide support in the sports-mad nation is already gearing up for the Cricket World Cup and visitors can expect to experience legendary Kiwi hospitality as they travel around New Zealand.
Therese Walsh, Head of New Zealand for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 says New Zealanders have already shown the world how well they can host a World Cup. "I think Kiwi fans will not want to miss seeing big names and we’ve seen before how well our country can get into the spirit of a tournament and get behind smaller nations."
She said New Zealanders were also truly behind their own team and this summer’s one-day series against India had shown how special the 50 over game can be. "But the atmosphere and experience at the World Cup will be something else again."
With tickets on sale and travel packages now available, fans can begin planning their summer 2015 visit to New Zealand for the Cricket World Cup.
For more information on New Zealand visit www.newzealand.com
For more information on the ICC Cricket World Cup visit www.cricketworldcup.com
Cricket World Cup 2015: Overview