Hadlee and cup in big demand
New Zealand cricket legend Sir Richard Hadlee and the Cricket World Cup trophy were in high demand at Horton Park in Blenheim yesterday morning.
Hadlee, the impressive piece of silverware and the head of the New Zealand organising committee for ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Therese Walsh, were at the home of cricket in Marlborough to help open the New Zealand Defence Force Inter-Services tournament and kick-start the countdown to next year's World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.
The public and four teams involved in this week's tournament had photos taken with Hadlee and the trophy, before the cricketing legend helped with the coin toss for the opening matches, which saw the New Zealand air force taking on the Royal Australian Air Force and the NZ army team facing the NZ navy.
Hadlee, this country's leading test wicket-taker, is the New Zealand ambassador for the World Cup. He said he was pleased to be in Blenheim and excited to begin the one-year countdown to the World Cup - the countdown officially starts on Friday.
"To be here with the defence forces is quite special. It is special for them and for me in many ways, particularly at Horton Park because I played a Canterbury game here against Central Districts a long time ago.
"It's a lovely facility here and it's good to see it's being utilised.
"The [World Cup] tournament has grown considerably since [the first one in 1975] and it will be very competitive. It's good for New Zealand to co-host it again as we did with Australia in 1992 and the fact New Zealand and Australia share 50-50 of the games.
That is a wonderful result for New Zealand to have 21 pool games, plus a quarterfinal and a semifinal, that's outstanding. For the fans here in New Zealand, they get to see every one of the teams play here . . . and that's quite unique I think."
The defence force tournament is significant for World Cup NZ organisers not only because it is a trans-Tasman event, but because it is played the same week the countdown officially starts and public ticket sales are launched.
However, it is also significant because next year marks the centenary of the Gallipoli landings in World War I.
Walsh felt all those reasons meant yesterday's event was an ideal way to start the World Cup countdown. Advertising and promotion of the tournament would now begin to ramp up and she said they had tried their best to make sure as many New Zealanders as possible could get to a match.
"We've got the seven host cities, which are spread right throughout the country, so even people in places like Blenheim can get to Nelson reasonably easily. It's pretty accessible for most people and we want the hype to go across the whole country.
"I don't think there will be many people . . . saying the tickets are outside of their reach.
"With a year to work towards it, $5 for kids to pool games and a $20 starting price for adults at most games . . . [is] really reasonable and I don't think we could have done any better."
The Marlborough Express