Countdown to cricket world cup starts

FORMER STARS: Martin Snedden, left, Sir Richard Hadlee, Martin Crowe, Sunil Gavaskar, Dean Jones and Gavin Larsen.
FORMER STARS: Martin Snedden, left, Sir Richard Hadlee, Martin Crowe, Sunil Gavaskar, Dean Jones and Gavin Larsen.

Wellington will be turned into a giant Village Green to welcome the England team and their fans for next year's Cricket World Cup.

At the unveiling of the countdown clock in the capital's Midland Park, mayor Celia Wade-Brown said Wellington was aiming to be a home away from home for the English who play two of their six pool games at Westpac Stadium - one of which will be against New Zealand.

Sri Lanka, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates all play in Wellington during the 14-team tournament which begins on February 14 next year.

Wellington also hosts a quarterfinal. Should the Black Caps qualify for the knock-out finals, they will feature in the capital quarterfinal.

Hundreds of Wellingtonians flocked to Midland Park today when the World Cup was on show next to a giant cricket ball countdown clock which will be moved around the city.

Expanding on the village green theme, New Zealand World Cup head Therese Walsh said Wellington was poised for a British invasion, with two England games being hosted in the capital.

Having the Barmy Army in the city would bolster international visitor numbers, who would be buoyed along by fans arriving for a quarter-final that Ms Walsh was confident the Black Caps would qualify for, especially based on their current form against India.

''It's a party atmosphere, we're trying to make it a bit of a British invasion.''

Wellington City Council would also boost the atmosphere with events around the city.

''I think Wellington's going to be absolutely fabulous because it's a small compact city, which makes it easy to get behind events,'' Ms Walsh said.

India-born Wellingtonian Tushar Panchal said he was very excited, but his allegiances were slightly split. Still, after 30 years living in New Zealand he'll be barracking for the Black Caps just a bit more than for his mother country.

''I can't wait ... I'm going to every single game.''

Mr Panchal had already bought tickets and was now trying to organise a group of five mates to make the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Wellington cricket legend Gavin Larsen is a veteran of 121 one-day international outings for New Zealand and was gently mocked for his ultra tight, run-conserving bowling by the MC who introduced him as ''one of the most miserly bowlers and generous men you'll find".

Larsen said there was a real ''buzz and positive vibe'' about the tournament.

Photos with the trophy proved just as popular as pictures with World Cup winners Dean Jones and Sunil Gavaskar.

The pair, alongside fellow World Cup ambassadors Sir Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe, are travelling the country today promoting the event and the fact public tickets go on sale tomorrow at 2pm.

Fairfax Media