Australia ready to replace West Indies as hosts of World Cup 2007
October 29, 2003
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Australia is looming as a chance of hosting the 2007 cricket World Cup as concerns mount about the ability of the West Indies to stage the event.
As the International Cricket Committee prepares for meetings in Barbados starting tomorrow (today) at which preparations for the next World Cup will be discussed - fears that the cricketing infrastructure of the Caribbean might not measure up are growing.
Australia has been informally discussed as the fall-back option to host the event, and would seem the logical second choice. Australia has hosted only one World Cup, in 1992, and was on stand-by as a potential host for this year’s event when doubts arose about staging it in South Africa and strife-torn Zimbabwe.
Cricket Australia officials have declined to comment ahead of the ICC meetings, but chairman Bob Merriman - who will attend the meetings - has told state cricket administrators that fears about the West Indies’ ability have reached a significant level within the ICC.
Along with the boards of other states, Merriman addressed the board of Cricket NSW earlier this month, during which fears about the 2007 World Cup were discussed.
“Bob said that there were growing concerns at ICC level about the West Indies holding the event,” said one NSW board member, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue in world-cricket politics.
“The impression was given that Australia would be well-placed to pick up the event, should the West Indies not be able to. It’s no surprise that people are worried about the West Indies holding the tournament, because of their financial worries and the general instability in the area.”
Another NSW board member, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was well aware of the fears over the 2007 event. “A lot of people are nervous,” he said.
Among the list of concerns are the poor standard of cricket facilities in the Caribbean, including its small grounds and its below-par practice wickets. While some work has begun on upgrading grounds, it is feared organisers will struggle to raise the money needed to stage a world-class event.
Concerns about the organisation of the cup also centre on the West Indies Cricket Board’s long history of infighting, with its member nations traditionally pulling in different directions.
The difficulties of travelling within the West Indies - not only for cricket teams but for the thousands of spectators expected to visit the islands - is also an issue. Aside from long airport queues and constant flight delays, the issue of security arose during the Australian team’s visit last autumn, when several thousand dollars’ worth of players’ equipment went missing at Trinidad airport.