Twenty-three years after Imran Khan led Pakistan to victory over England, Melbourne will again host the 2015 World Cup final , while Sydney and Auckland will host semi-finals just as they did in 1992.
A wide range of alternative options for the major matches of a tournament co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand had been discussed in the lead-up to the formal announcement of the official fixtures in Melbourne on Tuesday, including the prospect of a semi or final at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium and even Adelaide Oval.
But the organisers ultimately retained the same formula as 1992, handing matches to the SCG and Eden Park before the event’s show-piece takes place on March 29 at the MCG, where a crowd of more than 87,000 had watched Imran’s team triumph.
Among other key fixtures, the previously earthquake-stricken Christchurch will host the tournament’s opening match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka on February 14 at Hagley Oval, while later that same day Australia will play England at the MCG. The cup holders India will commence their tournament by facing Pakistan in Adelaide the following day.
Having been drawn together in Pool A, Australia will travel to Auckland to meet New Zealand on February 28. Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Wellington will each host a quarter-final.
Many luminaries were on hand in Melbourne’s Docklands for the announcement, including the ICC chief executive Dave Richardson who kept wicket for South Africa at the 1992 event, alongside Dennis Lillee, Ian Chappell, Kapil Dev, Sanath Jayasuriya, Adam Gilchrist and Michael Hussey.
“The ICC Cricket World Cup is the flagship tournament of the 50-over game. The 2015 tournament will mark 40 years since the first World Cup in 1975 and that history of great contests and heroes helps make the tournament what it is – the most sought after prize in our increasingly global game,” Richardson said.
“The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be returning to Australia and New Zealand after 23 years and will be staged at the back of two outstanding 50-over ICC events – the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and ICC Champions Trophy 2013. I’m absolutely confident that the success of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will further strengthen the status of 50-over cricket as a successful and viable format alongside Tests and Twenty20 Internationals.”
Several tournament venues have undergone major redevelopments with 2015 in mind, not least the SCG with a projected capacity of 48,000, and Adelaide Oval’s expansion to accommodate 50,000. Eden Park has also undergone a considerable facelift to also be capable of hosting 50,000 spectators.
The tournament will feature 49 matches across 44 days in 14 cities throughout February and March of 2015. Australia’s 2014-15 Test summer has been shortened to a mere four matches against India in order to leave room for the cup’s lengthy schedule. A 14-team format has the competitors pitted in two groups of seven, each to play six pool matches before the top four in each group advance to the quarter-finals, semis and final.
Venue cities: Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier, Nelson, Hamilton, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Wellington
Feb 14: Sri Lanka v New Zealand, Christchurch
England v Australia, Melbourne
Feb 15: South Africa v Zimbabwe, Hamilton
India v Pakistan, Adelaide
Feb 16: West Indies v Ireland, Nelson
Feb 17: New Zealand v Qualifier 3, Dunedin
Feb 18: Bangladesh v Qualifier 2, Canberra
Feb 19: Zimbabwe v Qualifier 4, Nelson
Feb 20: England v New Zealand, Wellington
Feb 21: Pakistan v West Indies, Christchurch
Australia v Bangladesh, Brisbane
Feb 22: Sri Lanka v Qualifier 2, Dunedin
South Africa v India, Melbourne
Feb 23: England v Qualifier 3, Christchurch
Feb 24: West Indies v Zimbabwe, Canberra
Feb 25: Ireland v Qualifier 4, Brisbane
Feb 26: Qualifier 2 v Qualifier 3, Dunedin
Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, Melbourne
Feb 27: South Africa v West Indies, Sydney
Feb 28: Australia v New Zealand ,Auckland
India v Qualifier 4, Perth
March 1: England v Sri Lanka, Wellington
Pakistan v Zimbabwe, Brisbane
March 3: South Africa v Ireland, Canberra
March 4: Pakistan v Qualifier 4, Napier
Australia v Qualifier 2, Perth
March 5: Bangladesh v Qualifier 3, Nelson
March 6: India v West Indies, Perth
March 7: South Africa v Pakistan, Auckland
Zimbabwe v Ireland, Hobart
March 8: New Zealand v Qualifier 2, Napier
Australia v Sri Lanka, Sydney
March 9: England v Bangladesh, Adelaide
March 10: India v Ireland, Hamilton
March 11: Sri Lanka v Qualifer 3, Hobart
March 12: South Africa v Qualifier 4, Wellington
March 13: Bangladesh v New Zealand, Hamilton
England v Qualifier 2, Sydney
March 14: India v Zimbabwe, Auckland
Australia v Qualifier 3, Hobart
March 15: West Indies v Qualifier 4, Napier
Pakistan v Ireland, Adelaide
March 18: Quarter-final 1, Sydney,
March 19: Quarter-final 2, Melbourne
March 20: Quarter-final 3, Adelaide
March 21: Quarter-final 4, Wellington
March 24: Semi-final 1, Auckland
March 25: Semi-final 2, Sydney
March 29: Final, Melbourne
Source – Cricinfo