National captains have joined the 100 days to go to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 celebrations by sharing their excitement and talking about their targets for the tournament that will be participated in by 14 sides, and will begin in Christchurch and Melbourne on 14 February. Australia captain Michael Clarke, who won the tournament in the West Indies in 2007, said it was a unique opportunity to play in the ICC Cricket World Cup in front of home crowds. “The last time the ICC Cricket World Cup was played in Australia was 23 years ago, so to be able to play in one at home is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is incredibly exciting for Australia to be co-host with New Zealand for the tournament and I encourage fans in both countries to come out watch the world’s best battle it out,” said the 33-year-old veteran of 237 One-Day Internationals.
Clarke anticipated an electrifying atmosphere at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when Australia opens its campaign against England, which had reached the final when the event was last staged in Australia and New Zealand in 1992. “When we walk out onto the MCG for our first match against England, I know the atmosphere will be electric. It’s fantastic to be able to host a global tournament of this magnitude in our own backyard and we can’t wait for it to start.” Clarke’s opposite number Alastair Cook, who will be featuring in his maiden ICC Cricket World Cup, said his side will be aiming to do better than the England side of 1992.
“Every professional cricketer dreams of representing his country in the ICC Cricket World Cup and I am no exception. I am hugely thrilled to have been given the chance to lead England in the tournament and I expect that competition for places in our final squad will be extremely tough. England reached the final the last time the competition was staged in Australia and New Zealand so there’s a real incentive for us to go one better next time and win the ICC Cricket World Cup for the first time in our history,” said the 29-year-old, who has featured in 86 ODIs to date for England. Cook has backed his side to impress, adding the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was an open event, “Having reached the ICC Champions Trophy final in 2013, we firmly believe we are capable of mounting a strong challenge next year. But there will be plenty of strong one-day sides who will also fancy their chances of winning the competition and in my view it remains wide open at this stage.” Defending champion India will launch its title defence against traditional rival Pakistan in Adelaide on 15 February, and its charismatic captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his side was capable of adapting and performing is any condition, “Following the World Cup triumph in 2011, the India side won the 50-over ICC Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom. This reflects the calibre and talent of the side, and its ability to adapt and perform in any condition. The tour to Australia in the lead up to the World Cup will be a good opportunity to hone our skills and, like all the sides participating in the tournament, be fully prepared for cricket’s ultimate prize. The World Cup is the biggest prize in cricket and to defend the title in Australia and New Zealand next year is a special opportunity. Like all the players, as well as millions of die-hard India cricket supporters around the globe, I look forward to the tournament with anticipation and excitement.”
South Africa captain AB De Villiers, who will be featuring in his third ICC Cricket World Cup, said next year’s event is the dream of all his players, “Playing in a World Cup is a childhood dream for many cricketers and the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup is another opportunity for that dream to become a reality for our players. We are in a really good space as an ODI unit, we have put in some consistent performances over the last few months and we would like to continue with that ahead of the tournament. Playing in New Zealand, and more particularly Australia, will give us a taste of conditions similar to back home. It is the ideal opportunity for us to experience playing in these type of conditions before the action starts in February. Our current tour of Australia will be a good assessment of where we are as a unit and it is always a welcome challenge playing Australia in their own backyard. It will be important for us to gain some winning confidence and playing experience before we head there in less than four months.” Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews spoke about bitter-sweet memories of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 but hoped his side will be prepared to take on New Zealand in Christchurch on 14 February, “Like the rest of Sri Lanka’s players, I can’t wait for the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup. Every player dreams of winning a World Cup. I have bitter-sweet memories of the 2011 World Cup where we were runners-up and I tore a quad muscle in our semi-final so this time we hope to go one better. Our preparations are already in full swing for that first match against hosts New Zealand in Christchurch and we will be ready for the challenge.” Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said his side, which will open its campaign against Asian rival Afghanistan in Canberra on 18 February, will be taking inspiration from past victories against the formidable oppositions, “We have not been in the best of form lately as a team but our victories against some top nations like Pakistan, India, South Africa and England in past World Cups is sure to inspire the players when we set foot Down Under. The Bangladeshi expatriate community in Australia and New Zealand will also be a source of great motivation. This is a tournament that only comes once in four years and that is all the encouragement I need. Bangladesh’s brand of cricket is competitive and entertaining when we play to our full potential and I know for a fact that everyone is working very hard for the event.”
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who will be featuring in his fourth ICC Cricket World Cup, admitted his side needed to do a lot of work but hoped it will be in great shape when it takes on former champion Sri Lanka in Christchurch. “In 100 days’ time, New Zealand will be co-hosting the pinnacle event in world cricket and that’s an incredibly exciting prospect for both players and fans. The hype for the tournament is rising all around the country and that buzz is only going to continue to grow. “There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then, but come our opening match against Sri Lanka in Christchurch we’ll be raring and ready to go,” said the 33-year-old, who, after Stephen Fleming (280), Daniel Vettori (277) and Chris Harris (250) has played the most ODIs for New Zealand (232). Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who was part of the side that lost the semi-final to India in Mohali in 2011, said every match in the ICC Cricket World Cup will be important, “The tournament opener against India in Adelaide (on 15 February) will be an important match but every game in the World Cup will matter as each side will enter into the competition believing that it can lift the coveted trophy. We will take one match at a time, try to stick to our game plans, aim to do the basics right and then hope for the best.”
The veteran of 151 ODIs hopes that the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 victory will guide his side through to next year’s event. “Pakistan has unforgettable memories from the event when it was last staged in Australia and New Zealand. Though you don’t require any extra motivation when representing your country, the 1992 World Cup will help us at every stage during next year’s tournament. The best of the best in ODIs assemble once in four years at the World Cup, and this is exactly what makes the World Cup such a special and unique event, not only for the players but also for the fans around the world. With just 100 days remaining to the start of the tournament, the Pakistan cricket side looks forward to being part of an event, which has been participated in and won by some of the most iconic and legendary cricketers.”