World Cup organisers save the best for last From Orin Davidson In Jamaica
Stabroek News
March 12, 2007

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World Cup organizers saved the best for last at yesterday's historic World Cup opening ceremony.

Until the West Indies' `Energy Show' injected creativity into the West Indies first step towards hosting its first World Cup cricket competition, one was being made to feel the Opening Ceremony was just another concert of Regional performers.

From the moment Byron Lee and the Dragonaires took to the stage to accompany a host of past and present reggae and soca stars, the great majority of the show, touted to be the best ever World Cup opening ceremony, seemed one big reunion.

The massive stage seemed too large for the singers including Machel Montano, Alyson Hinds Kevin Lyttle, Sean Paul, Arrow, Third World, Beres Hammond and Gregory Isaacs.

Most were unable to use it properly and the great expanse of 80 yards of the Trelawny Multi Purpose Stadium from the stage to the packed stands, created a hollow atmosphere, despite the presence of a meagre group of make up jump and wave dancers.

At that stage many of the two billion television audience had to be disappointed as the expectation of an extravanganza of creativity reminiscent of Olympic Games was missing.

Paul seemed especially flat and probably missed the company of American R&B diva Keisha Cole in his handling of "Give it Up to Me", with whom he teamed up in the original rendition.

Ultimately it was left to the Energy Show's dancers to give the event a lift in accompaniment initially to David Rudder's Give Praise and later on by reggae champion of yesteryear Lovindeer.

It all started to get better as the parade of an additional group of dancers with costumed floats kicked in to add to the originality of the show in a demonstration of the Region's Carnival culture. An India dance sequence provided the diversity of the Caribbean and when the entire stadium was darkened (deliberately) to make way for a series of reggae legend Bob Marley music videos, one got the true feeling of the West Indies staging the World Cup.

As expected the West Indies team received the biggest cheers from the 11,000 crowd all accommodated in the northern stands as the huge stage backed the southern stand.

Decked out in the red blazers and dark pants, the home team was last to enter the arena in the parade of players, led by a relaxed looking captain Brian Lara.

He later said it was a big honor to the deliver the players' declaration and felt the occasion was the greatest sport spectacle of all time in the midst of the first set of fireworks that added the colorful Trelawny Complex.

Earlier, Cricket World Cup CEO Chris Dehring deemed West Indies the most blessed place on earth and dedicated lots of his opening address to the pride the people felt in staging the third largest sports event ever.

West Indies Cricket Board President Ken Gordon was a last minute withdrawal from delivering his message which was read instead by board vice-president Val Banks.

But many in the crowd who know Gordon was left puzzled as the stadium announcer did not mention the change of speaker.

Hopefully this lapse will not be an indication of the team's future performance as their lousy batting display against India which resulted in an embarrassing nine wicket defeat in the final warm-up game last week has left many Jamaica fans nervous.