Colourful opening ceremony kicks off ICC Cricket World Cup
Christchurch, Feb 12 (IANS) The 2015 cricket World Cup was declared open here on Thursday after a two-hour extravaganza featuring 1,000 performers, including past and present New Zealand cricketers and some of the country's top musicians.
The high-budget show was beamed live to 2.5 billion people across more than 220 countries and opened the sport's showpiece tournament in style. There was a carnival atmosphere throughout the programme that began with four giant games of backyard cricket, played by 80 school children.
Huge crowds cheered the white-clad kids. The event also witnessed traditional Sri Lankan dancing, followed by a performances from Scottish bagpipers, and Bollywood and Irish dancers.
Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel said the city had been "waiting for a very long time" to return to the global stage. It is one of the city's first major events since the devastating earthquake that struck three years ago and resulted in Christchurch losing its hosting rights for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Kiwi music stars Ginny Blackmore, band Sole Mio, Hayley Westenra, the New Zealand Army Band all wowed the crowd with their energetic performances.
The show also comprised cultural performances and guest appearances by New Zealand cricket legends Richard Hadlee, Stephen Fleming, and current captain Brendon McCullum. Skipper McCullum got the loudest cheers when he went up to the stage.
The programme concluded with a massive fireworks display here.
Co-hosts New Zealand take on Sri Lanka at the Hagley Oval ground in the first match of the 14-nation tournament here on February 14. Australia take on England on the same day in Melbourne.
A similar ceremony took place at Melbourne's Sidney Myer Music Bowl to declare the tournament open in Australia. Cricket Australia (CA) chairman Wally Edwards unveiled the World Cup.
"Australia and New Zealand are keen on-field cricket rivals, but there has been a strong trans-Tasman spirit in their joint venture helping to organise this Cricket World Cup over the last 10 years," he said.
Matches will be played in 14 host cities across the two countries over the next six weeks.