CHRISTCHURCH (TIP): The traffic stopped all around the city and everyone on the streets looked up at the night sky which was bathed in a riot of colours.
As fireworks lit the skyline, the Kiwi leg of the 2015 World Cup was officially thrown open and this southern city of New Zealand, which has turned a disaster into an opportunity, embraced it with open arms.
The opening ceremony wasn’t about grandeur or glamour quotient, it was purely about bringing the cricket world together in a city which is still trying to come to terms with the earthquake which ripped it apart four years back.
The beautiful Hagley Park was thrown open to the public for a party and how well they responded! The twilight sky , the chilly breeze, the aroma of delicious fried lamb and the flowing beer – the setting couldn’t have been more exciting and enchanting.
There was a crowd of close to 20,000 but there was no jostling for space, no frisking of the police, no long queues – the opening ceremony was all about welcoming the world home.
indigenous Maori tradition wasn’t forgotten; constant references to the worldbeating rugby team kept coming up, but space was made for every participating nation.
“You can have every nation, but the maximum colour is invariably India’s,” Emma, a New Zealand tourism volunteer said, just as the Indian performance got over.
New Zealand Cricket came up with an interesting idea of setting up platforms for all the seven hosting cities and there was an ambassador for each. There couldn’t have been anyone better than Richard Hadlee to be Christchurch’s ambassador and the greatest New Zealand cricketer of all times thanked ICC for allocating the opening game to Christchurch.
“This generation of cricketers is far better than we were. The game has gone to a different level and we can expect a fantastic World Cup,” Hadlee said.
The four teams currently in the country -New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Zimbabwe – were all represented by their captains. The Kiwis and the Lankans of course had the full squad on the stage.
The mike moved on from one skipper to the other and all of them spoke about their teams and the chances. While McCullum spoke about keeping the consistency going, De Villiers said he wouldn’t mind breaking his own ODI world record of scoring the fastest ODI century.