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The green light to host cricket’s most prestigious event came yesterday from ICC president Ehsan Mani and chief executive Malcolm Speed at a s conference at airmont Royal Pavilion in St James.
“Next week will see the ICC signing the host country agreement with the West Indies Cricket Board. It is the first step leading up to the 2007 World Cup and would start a journey that we would take together towards the 2007 World Cup,” Mani said following a historic maiden meeting of the ICC’s Board in the Caribbean.
Noting the signing would take place in Jamaica after separate meetings were held with the WICB’s Directors and the Windies 2007 World Cup organising company, Mani also dismissed speculation in the Australian press regarding the West Indies hosting the 2007 World Cup.
“I would just like to say very categorically, there’s absolutely no truth in this. Over the past few days, I’ve had an opportunity of talking to Bob Merriman, the president of Cricket Australia and he has emphatically denied the statements attributed to him,” Mani said.
“The hosting of the World Cup is in the West Indies, but this is a partnership between the West Indies Cricket Board and the International Cricket Council,” Mani said.
“We are going to be involved totally in this process, right from the beginning. If there are going to be problems, we’ll pick them up early. There will be regular consultation process, regular meetings. The West Indies are not going to be left on their own to even sink or swim.
“We are going to minimise any chances of anything going wrong. The legacy that we are going to leave behind from this World Cup is going to be enormous for the West Indies in terms of the infrastructure developments here, in terms of the financial resources for the West Indies Cricket Board to sustain the game going forward,” Mani asserted.
“It is going to be a positive partnership. It is not going to be one where there will be negatives that will be allowed to take over . . . at this stage, we have no concerns with the West Indies as we did not have with South Africa at this stage,” added Mani.
He said the overall responsibility of ensuring the facilities were up to the required standard rested with the Caribbean islands.
“The way the process is going to go is that the countries bidding for the World Cup venues will have to provide the infrastructure facilities and other facilities.
“If it boils off matters outside the control of the ICC or the West Indies Cricket Board or something goes wrong like stadiums are not built or monies not made available, we will pick that up very early on so we are going to try to minimise the effects of this,” Mani declared.
Speed made it clear “there is a lot riding on this World Cup for the ICC and the WICB. It would be the biggest sporting event that has been run in this part of the world. It is a huge sporting event that attracts great spectator interest, television interest and is followed by cricket followers all around the world, so it is very important that it is run at the highest possible standards,” Speed said.
Speed said he was in Barbados in May and met with members of the organising committee and WICB members when a preliminary report was delivered to the ICC about the West Indies’ World Cup progress.
“What was put in place then was a series of subsequent meetings. The first of those will be held in Jamaica on Sunday and Monday and there are a number of issues that we will look at,” Speed said.
“What we will be doing in those meetings too is setting some benchmarks for going forward that we would be reviewing from time to time.
“We will ask the organising committee to report back from time to time and to make sure that they achieve those benchmarks,” Speed said.
Speed said the ICC would know more about progress after the meetings in Jamaica but said the issue of whether the World Cup newshould be located somewhere other than the West Indies was not raised or discussed at the two-day ICC board meeting.
NTERNATIONAL Cricket Council’s (ICC) chief executive, Malcolm Speed, has confirmed there will be a record 16 teams in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean with the addition of two more associate countries.
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