Lara launches World Cup
West Indies captain Brian Lara welcomed the start of the ninth World Cup by calling for it to be “the greatest sporting festival of all time” at a spectacular opening ceremony.
Lara and the legendary Sir Garfield Sobers officially declared the tournament open at the end of an event which featured dancing, fireworks and Caribbean music.
The ceremony at the newly-built Trelawny Stadium began and ended with a showcase of musical talent featuring reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, Third World, Shaggy and Sly and Robbie.
After the dance and music extravaganza, the teams were led out by Mello, the official 2007 World Cup mascot, with Bermuda winning the award for the most striking outfit by sporting bright red Bermuda shorts.
The Dutch team were equally flamboyant in their official team outfits, wearing bright orange jackets, but the Scotland players stopped short of donning kilts for the ceremony.
The biggest cheer of the evening was reserved for the West Indies team, who were led out by former captain Clive Lloyd to enthusiastic applause from the expectant crowd.
Despite the event being staged in the middle of the night, both Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle sported sun-glasses, presumably to shield their eyes from the glare of the fireworks.
But it was Lara who earned one of the biggest roars of approval from the enthusiastic crowd by saying: “To all the people of the Caribbean and all our visitors, I hope you witness the greatest sporting festival of all time.”
Speaking on behalf of all the players from the 16 different nations, Lara also promised to “play to the best of our ability, respect the laws and spirit of cricket and respect the rules of this tournament and commit ourselves to the highest standards of fair play and good sportsmanship”.
The show, entitled ‘West Indian Energy’ and lasting almost three hours, also featured local stars, including Trinidad’s Machel Montano, Jamaica’s Sean Paul, Alison Hinds - known as the first lady of soca – from Barbados and St Vincent’s Kevin Lyttle.
All nine of the host venues were represented during the event, while most of the nations competing also contributed to the showcase, including three girls performing an Irish jig.
In all, more than 2,000 singers, dancers and performers were involved in the production, officially opening a tournament which begins on Tuesday with the contest between West Indies and Pakistan - the first of 51 matches - and culminates with the final in Barbados on April 28.