Johannesburg:The Twenty20 World Cup was officially launched in Johannesburg on Thursday with a glimpse of how big the South Africans are planning to make this event.
The 13-day event will have 12 nations compete in 27 matches for one trophy. It starts from September 11 with matches being played in Johannesburg, Capetown and Durban.
ICC President Ray Mali and the South African cricket stars assembled at the dome in Johannesburg to add glamour to the inauguration ceremony and witness the launch of the second World Cup this year.
Catchy Music is nothing new to the dome at Johannesburg, which has played host to the likes of Bryan Adams and Westlife, in the past.
The action and excitement was back, though in a different format. And the beats were there too, though the calypso had given way to the South African drums.
"Looking forward to it. The whole of South Africa is excited," said Graeme Smith, South Africa Captain.
The local organising committee has been looking forward to the tournament eagerly and so is the ICC. They are hoping that the exciting short format of the game will bring back the fans, and help them redeem the image of the game, which took a beating lost during the controversy-marred World Cup in the Caribbean.
"There were new venues in the West Indies but there is no such problem in South Africa. They have international class venues. The only problem could be weather as we will be coming straight out of our winters," said Dave Richardson, Cricket Manager, International Cricket Council.
South Africa certainly has the experience, and is almost making it a habit of hosting big events.
They hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Now the play host to the Twenty20 world cup and that will be followed by the Soccer World Cup in 2010.
Rugby is another sport which is hugely popular in this part of the world. And with the 2007 Rugby world cup in France happening being staged at the same time as the Twenty20 event, it is quite obvious that the organisers are obviously spending sleepless nights.
The interim ICC president, however, gave an indication of what sports fans across the country might look to do has made his plans clear.
"I've played rugby so I will be switching from cricket to rugby time and again. That's the way it has been over the years," said Ray Mali.
So even as Graeme Smith and his boys get ready hope for a smooth ride at home, they know that the going won't be that easy. After all, world champions Australia have made their intentions clear already, by announcing the same squad for the slam bang version that won the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies a few months ago.
Australia are in Group B along with England and Zimbabe, while hosts South Africa have been teamed up with West Indies and Bangladesh in Group A. India and traditional rivals have been put in Group D along with Scotland. New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Kenya constitute Group C.
Team India's first match against Scotland on September 13. They take on Pakistan on the next day. The Super Eights round begins on September 16.