The Cricket World Cup 2019 got underway Wednesday with a short opening ceremony at the iconic Mall in front of the Buckingham Palace in London. Thousands of fans gathered to celebrate the ceremony, including plenty of Asian supporters and handful amounts of Bangladeshi spectators waving flags braving the rain and cold. The weather was a bit gloomy in London, typical in the United Kingdom, and it has been drizzling since Wednesday morning. Just prior to the opening ceremony, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the captains of the participating teams at Royal Garden Party, Buckingham Palace. The opening program started at around 5pm local time, and lasted an hour. Perhaps rain caused the program to be cut short as it was arranged in an open place, at the Mall.
There were two representatives from every team in the opening ceremony. Among those two, one was chosen as a designated former legendary cricketer, while the other was selected with the criteria of being an outstanding achiever of a particular nation, apart from cricket. From Bangladesh, former Tigers left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak and famous actress Jaya Hasan attended the event and represented their country. “I feel happy to be here as a representative of Bangladesh. I have high hope for the team as we have improved a lot in the last few years. I can’t predict how far they can go, but definitely, they will perform in such a way that everyone will remember their performance,” said Razzak to Dhaka Tribune.
“It’s a great festival here. They wanted a non-sports person to be here as a representative of Bangladesh. I felt so honored that ICC has invited me. It’s a great festival here. I always follow cricket. We have a strong and experienced team now. Under the captaincy of Mashrafe [bin Mortaza], hopefully we will perform well in the tournament,” said Jaya to Dhaka Tribune. The other representatives from the remaining nine nations were: Mahela Jayawardene and Damayanthi Darsha (former sprinter) for Sri Lanka, Sir Viv Richards and Yohan Blake (sprinter) for the West Indies, Anil Kumble and Farhan Akhtar (film director, actor) for India, Jacques Kallis and Steven Pienaar (former footballer) for South Africa, Brett Lee and Pat Cash (former tennis player) of Australia, James Franklin and Sean Fitzpatrick (former rugby player) for New Zealand, Azhar Ali and Malala Yousafzai (Nobel peace prize winner) for Pakistan, Kevin Pietersen and Chris Hughes (reality TV star) for England and Mirwais Ashraf and Aeyana Sayeed (singer) for Afghanistan.
The hosts of the program were former legendary England all-rounder Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, renowned Indian anchor Shibani Dandekar and TV personality Paddy McGuinness. In the latter part of the event, a fun game was arranged between the representatives of each nation. The rules were: Every person will bat one ball each periodically for a minute, the score will count from boundary and over boundary, and every connection with bat and ball without a boundary will count as one run. And the team which score the highest runs will eventually win. There was a short area designated for this event.
The Windies batted second and all eyes were on Sir Viv and his team. They scored 43 runs. The winner of the light-hearted event was host team England as Pietersen and Hughes scored 74 while Australian pair Lee and Cash made 69. Bangladesh’s Razzak and Jaya scored 22, and finished second last. The last team was India as Kumble and Farhan managed to score 19. And so, the wait is over. The biggest tournament of the cricket fraternity will kick off Thursday at the Oval where host England will face South Africa in the tournament opener. It is expected to be a cracking World Cup and the battle between bat and ball within the 22 yards will be fascinating to see.