NEW DELHI, May 1: Asia's cricket chiefs celebrated the award of the 2011 World Cup by vowing on Monday a spectacular event that will be “as big as the one for football”.

A joint bid by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh defeated the rival bid by Australia and New Zealand 10-3 at the International Cricket Council's (ICC) Executive Board meeting in Dubai on Sunday.

Inderjit Singh Bindra, the former Indian cricket boss who made the Asian presentation on Sunday, said he was confident from the start that the bid would win.

“We only had to stress that cricket is a religion in our part of the world, everything else is secondary,” said Bindra.

“Bollywood movies, official functions, even marriages, are arranged depending on the cricket schedule. No one does anything else if a big match is being organised.

“Traffic will once again come to a stop in four countries in 2011. There will be more than a billion viewers in the sub-continent and another billion in the rest of the world.

“We are confident 2011 will represent a new landmark as a cricketing and sporting milestone. The cricket World Cup will be as big as the one for football.”

Bindra, who had led the sub-continent's successful bids for the 1987 and 1996 events, said it was remarkable team work by the four nations that secured the vote.

“I may have made the presentation yesterday, but the credit has to go to all four countries,” he said. “We are a close-knit unit and that is how it will stay.”

Of greater significance, Bindra added, was the fact that the ICC agreed that every third World Cup will be held in the Indian sub-continent, the region that drives the sport's economics.

What, however, remained unsaid was the hectic backroom diplomacy that went on through on Saturday night in Dubai ahead of the vote.

The numbers were clearly against Australia and New Zealand, who needed the mandatory support of seven of the 10 Test-playing nations for their bid to succeed.

With the four Asian nations having joined hands, Australia and New Zealand could, at best, have garnered six votes between themselves.

But they could have ensured the vote be postponed to a later date had they succeeded in roping in South Africa, Zimbabwe and the West Indies along with their trusted backer England.

In the end, only England supported the trans-Tasman bid as the Asians first sealed the South African and Zimbabwe votes and then won over the West Indies by promising to organise fund-raising events during next year's World Cup in the Caribbean.

Bindra went out of his way to thank Australia and New Zealand, who had not objected when the Asians sought, and were granted, more time to submit their bids in February.

“They were very sporting, without their support we could not have even made the bid,” said Bindra of the rivals, who will now host the World Cup in 2015.

The Asians propose to host 22 matches in India, 14 in Pakistan, nine in Sri Lanka and six in Bangladesh, assuming there will be 51 games at the tournament.

It is still undecided which country will host the final. When the tournament was last held in the sub-continent in 1996, India hosted the two semifinals and the final went to Lahore.

India's 22 matches would be held at eight regular Test venues: Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Nagpur, Mohali and Ahmedabad.

Pakistan would use six venues in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Peshawar, Multan and Faisalabad.

Sri Lanka would host all its matches at two venues in Colombo, the Premadasa Stadium and the Sinhalese Sports Club.

Bangladesh listed three venues -- the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur and the Narayanganj Osmani Stadium in Fatullah -- but will use only one.

The four nations want the ICC to place them in four different groups of the preliminary league so that they can play their initial matches at home. —AFP



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