Monday 10 September 2007 

Let The Games Begin, Says ICC President Ray Mali

With just one day to go before the start of the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, ICC President Ray Mali expressed his excitement at the prospect of the world’s top cricketing nations going head to head in the shortest form of the game.

Speaking on the eve of the first match of the tournament, which will see hosts South Africa taking on the West Indies at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, Mr Mali said it promised to a wonderful event.

“After months of planning, I am looking forward to things finally kicking off tomorrow. This is a new format of the game but one which has been embraced wholeheartedly in the domestic scene, especially here in South Africa.

“It is fast and furious with plenty of action, and judging by the overwhelming crowd response we have had for the warm-up games over the last few days, the atmosphere at all three grounds is bound to be fantastic.

“The fans here love this form of the game for its entertainment value but also for the quality of cricket that is on display and the ICC World Twenty20 will give them a chance to witness the top cricketers in the world going all out in what is sure to be a hotly contested tournament,” he added.

Mr Mali stressed the importance that the ICC places on the Spirit of Cricket.

“We are confident that the players have embraced the concept of the Spirit of Cricket and that all the games in this wonderful tournament will be played in the very best spirit by these true sportsmen. It is something I know most players feel strongly about,” he said.

“Also, this tournament will be the first of many together with our new broadcast partners ESPN STAR Sports, who are now on board and we are looking forward to excellent coverage which will be beamed into homes in 105 countries across the globe for those who could not make it to the grounds in South Africa.

“We are also grateful to our commercial partners: Emirates, Nokia, Reliance, Emaar MGF and Pepsi as well as our local partners for this tournament, Imperial, South Africa Tourism, Standard Bank and Southern Sun. Their contribution is vital in securing the well being of this great game into the future.

“Now let’s get the show on the road and enjoy two weeks of sizzling action.”

The South African cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town will be the venues for this intensive two-week event and a host of top players from all over the globe are chomping at the bit to get stuck in.

The likes of Adam Gilchrist, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Jacob Oram, Shahid Afridi, Lasith Malinga, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Tamim Iqbal, Kevin Pietersen and Tatenda Taibu will all be there from each of the ten Full Members while players of the calibre of Steve Tikolo and Ryan Watson will be among those representing the world of Associate cricket.

As well as the top ten teams, which qualified automatically, Kenya and Scotland got to this stage having made it to the final of the ICC World Cricket League Division 1, held in Nairobi in February.

The ICC World Twenty20 will take place from 11 to 24 September and will involve 12 teams, 27 matches, three venues and countless thrills.

© ICC