Twenty-three years after Imran Khan led Pakistan to victory over England, Melbourne will again host the World Cup final in 2015, while Sydney and Auckland will hosts 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.
Pool A: England, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Qualifier 2 and Qualifier 3
Pool B: South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies Zimbabwe, Ireland and Qualifier 4
Venue cities: Adelaide, Auckland, Brisbane, Canberra, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier, Nelson, Hamilton, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Wellington