Nelson's world cup countdown begins

Festival of cricket kicks off a year today

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 12:32 13/02/2014
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ

CLOCK IS TICKING: Young cricket fans line up to add colourful hand prints to the countdown clock marking one year to go before the start of the Cricket World Cup in Nelson.

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The one-year countdown to Cricket World Cup in Nelson was marked in a style true to the laid-back summer city - with a game of backyard cricket.

As a giant cricket ball countdown clock landed in 1903 Square yesterday, it signified one year to go until the start of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

Local school children and a few big kids rolled the arm over and lucky individuals took catches to win double passes to one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

Nelson is one of 14 host cities for the tournament in New Zealand and Australia. Like all the other host cities, including Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Wellington and Auckland, Nelson will host three pool games with some genuine stars of the international game on show.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese and representatives from Nelson Cricket were among the first to leave handprints on the clock yesterday.

A competition was also launched to create a mural on the ball with aspiring artists asked to create a piece reflecting what they believe makes Nelson a special place to live.

Nelson's Saxton Oval made its Black Caps debut and became the 10th ground to host a men's ODI, when the West Indies toured there last month.

Combining that with a region famous for its golden beaches and beach cricket is sure to be a common motif in entries.

"Cricket World Cup in Nelson is about celebrating families enjoying cricket and it has a beach theme because what else would you have in Nelson but summer on the beach and beach cricket," said Ms Reese.

Saxton Oval will host three games at Cricket World Cup, with the West Indies returning to play Ireland. Zimbabwe play recent qualifiers United Arab Emirates and the Black Caps bane of Bangladesh take on ICC Cricket World Cup qualifying champions Scotland.

Tickets were due to go on sale today and Ms Reese said the pricing of tickets would make sure that all Nelson families had an opportunity to experience Cricket World Cup. All children's tickets for the pools' stage are $5 while adults start from $20.

"Ticket prices are amazing, it is an affordable day out and that was really important to us as a council.

"I don't think there is a better ground in New Zealand to watch cricket.

"Saxton Oval was sold out for the West Indies in January . . . and I expect to see sell-out crowds for those [Cricket World Cup] games."

Ms Reese wasn't just predicting a Nelson sell-out, the crystal ball gazing extended to results, and a year out, she is picking a New Zealand and Australia final.

"When we get down to that final, just maybe it might be those Anzacs fighting it out for the win."

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