Cricket: 2011 World Cup opens on just the right note

England's captain Andrew Strauss gives a thumbs up during the opening ceremony of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup.

England's captain Andrew Strauss gives a thumbs up during the opening ceremony of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup.

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The Cricket World Cup was sung in by Bryan Adams in Dhaka last night.

It is the winter of 2011, of course, rather than the Summer of 69, but a short set of the Canadian rocker’s favourites still did the trick for 21,000 people inside the Bangabandhu National Stadium.

Adams’ party piece concluded a colourful evening which began with the entry of England’s Andrew Strauss and the other 13 World Cup captains behind tournament mascot Stumpy the elephant in a succession of ornately decorated rickshaws.

They were presented to a hugely enthusiastic crowd, impatient for the tournament to get under way as it will on Saturday at the nearby Sher-e-Bangla Stadium when co-hosts Bangladesh and India clash.

International Cricket Council president Sharad Pawar and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were among the dignitaries.

Welcomed

Pawar told his audience, and cricket followers the world over, they were witnessing a “historic” day as the sub-continent welcomed the event for the first time since 1996.

“Tonight we welcome the captains of the world’s top 14 teams to the opening ceremony of the 10th ICC Cricket World Cup,” he said.

“One of these captains before us tonight will stand in the magnificent new Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 2 and receive the ICC Cricket World Cup trophy.

“On behalf of the ICC, I wish you all the very best of luck.”

England will begin their quest in Nagpur against the Netherlands next week.

And former England captain Mike Gatting believes Kevin Pietersen can be a modern-day Ian Botham in his new World Cup opening position.

Having deposed Steven Davies in the squad, wicketkeeper Matt Prior was favourite to partner Andrew Strauss at the top of the order, while Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott also had their supporters.

England sprung a surprise in yesterday’s warm-up match against Canada, though, promoting Pietersen to the role.

Gatting feels it could be an inspired decision, citing the job the big-hitting Botham once performed in limited-overs cricket.

“It’s interesting to see KP opening because we weren’t quite sure what the coach was going to do with that position,” Gatting told Press Association Sport at the launch of joint venture by the Lord’s Taverners and the Macquarie Group to promote disabled participation in table cricket.

“It’s a very interesting step to take and it will be a talking point, but looking back to when I played one-day cricket, we used to open with Ian Botham.

“The fact is he is talented, can hit the ball through the field and over the top.

“He can really give impetus.”

Gatting feels the apparent decision to abandon the long-standing notion of opening with a gloveman – a move popularised by Australia legend Adam Gilchrist – is a good one.

“What you want in the one-day stuff is for your best players to get in quickly and for a long time,” he continued. “Sometimes you put your keeper up there and you can end up with a specialist batsman not getting as long at the crease.

“If Kevin gets going early then he has 50 overs to bat and it will be damaging for the opposition if he stays in.”

THis week’s fixtures

Tomorrow: India v Bangladesh, Mirpur, 8:30

Sunday: Kenya v New Zealand, Chennai, 4:00; Sri Lanka v Canada, Hambantota, 9:00.

Monday: Australia v Zimbabwe, Ahmedabad, 9:00.

Tuesday: England v Holland, Nagpur, 9:00

Wednesday: Kenya v Pakistan, Hambantota, 9:00

Thursday: South Africa v West Indies.

Friday: Australia v New Zealand, Nagpur, 4:00; Bangladesh v Ireland.

Cricket commentator Henry Blofeld proudly holds his OBE back in 2003. Blofeld will retire from his role as commentator on the BBC Radio 4's Test Match Special programme in September.

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