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  • Sri Lanka proud hosts of popular and shorter form of most entertaining tournament played in Asia for the first time; 20-teams, 20-day cricket fiesta ICC World T20 kicks off tomorrow
  • Mega boost for tourism as 500 players and officials alone to take up 9,000 room-nights; hundreds of overseas fans, global sponsor officials and media to boost numbers
  • Live broadcast across 226 territories in the world with an audience of over 1.5 billion, a record for any cricket event highest ever for an ICC event to date
  • A substantial part of near half a million match tickets already snapped up with finals sold out

By Nisthar Cassim
Creating history, the ICC World T20 tournament kicks off in Sri Lanka tomorrow, promising to be the best festival of entertaining cricket for global fans Kumar Sangakkara augmented his solid place in cricket’s history by bagging three more trophies at the LG ICC Awards and was all smiles with the Sir Garfield Sobers trophy for ICC Cricketer of the Year, the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year award and the LG People’s Choice trophy at Waters Edge on Saturday. Fans will be expecting fireworks from him at the T20 World Cup – Pic by Upul Abayasekarawhilst providing the country its biggest platform to showcase itself to the world.
It is the first time that the ICC World T20 competition is being held in Asia, with the previous three editions hosted by England (2010), West Indies (2009) and South Africa (2007). In that context, the hosting of ICC WT20 by Sri Lanka is historic and brings the excitement of the shorter and more popular version of the game to home of Asia, where cricket is a religion and a passion.
Twelve teams will be vying for the Men’s Cup and eight for the Women’s during the 20-day tournament between 18 September and 7 October played across four venues in Sri Lanka.
The first match will be between host Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe played at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, in Hambantota from 7:30 p.m. onwards.  The men’s finals with the winning team taking $ 1 million in cash will be played at R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo on 7 October. Pallakelle and Galle are the other match venues.
Overall prize money for men’s competition is $ 2.75 million whilst for the women’s tournament it is $ 165,000, with the winning team getting $ 60,000.
ICC WT20 2012 Tournament Director Upekha Nell told the Daily FT that her organisation and Sri Lanka were all set to kick off the tournament and expressed confidence it would be an exciting 20 days of competitive cricket, with the 20 teams vying for supremacy.
She said that the World T20 coming to Asia was good for the game in the region and a great boost for Sri Lanka.
It was noted that the good legacy of holding the ICC World Cup last year by Sri Lanka had come to benefit the preparations for the hosting of the World T20 with the support from the ICC.
As per most analysts, the hosting of ICC World T20 is expected to give a major boost for Sri Lanka and several sectors such as tourism, entertainment, From left: Brendan Taylor, AB de Villiers, Mohammad Hafeez, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, George Bailey, Stuart Broad, Mahela Jayawardena, Darren Sammy, William Porterfield, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ross Taylor and Nawroz Mangal - the 12 captains of the men’s teams posing with the trophy at Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo – AFP transportation, marketing, and media. Given the biggest-ever live broadcast for an ICC event, Sri Lanka’s profile globally will get a massive boost. Success of the tournament will also strengthen the Government’s new strategy of positioning Sri Lanka as a sports hub.
According to Nell, the base of 500 players and officials of the cricket teams have taken up 9,000 room nights during the 20-day tournament. She expects additional rooms to be taken by sponsors and global media as well as overseas fans. Around 400 print journalists have registered to cover the event, apart from ESPN Star Sports, which is ICC’s global media rights partner, taking the responsibility of television coverage.
Commercial partners of the ICC World T20 are Reliance, LG, Pepsi, Hero, Emirates, Reebok, Castrol, MoneyGram and Hyundai.
Nell said a fair amount of the 493,000 tickets for the ICC World T20 had been snapped up with the 7 October finals already sold out.
Men’s teams will be Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka West Indies and Zimbabwe.
Women’s teams Australia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, England, New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies.
Host broadcaster and ICC Global Media Rights partner ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) said the World T20 tournament would be viewed by people across 226 territories, the highest-ever for an ICC event to date.
“The event is set to reach an audience of more than 1.5 billion, a record for any cricket event, thanks to new and extended agreements secured by ESPN STAR Sports,” ESS said. This includes a groundbreaking partnership with ESPN in the US, Caribbean, Central and Latin America and the continued coverage of the ICC World Twenty20 in Europe via Eurosport, this time in 18 languages.
Following on from the world class production of the ICC Cricket World Cup last year, ESPN STAR Sports will produce High Definition (HD) broadcast coverage using 29 cameras, an array of on-air enhancements and compelling graphic presentation to accompany the insightful and trusted voices of its expert group of commentators.
The live broadcast will feature 16 commentators and legends of the game from the leading participating countries. These include Sourav Ganguly, Sanjay Manjrekar, Wasim Akram, Ramiz Raja, Ian Chappell, Tony Greig, Mark Waugh, Damien Fleming, David Lloyd, Nasser Hussain, Ian Bishop, Simon Doull, Pommie Mbangwa, Russel Arnold, Harsha Bhogle, and Alan Wilkins.
Campbell Jamieson, ICC General Manager – Commercial, said: “The ICC World Twenty20 2012 will have the best reach ever for a cricket event and combined with the unique passion and enthusiasm for our great sport in Sri Lanka, the event is set to create a new benchmark.”
“And for those people around the world who can’t be there in person, ESPN STAR Sports’ distribution efforts have ensured that more than 1.5 billion people across the globe can view every single match from the comfort of their own home,” he added.
Peter Hutton, ESPN STAR Sports’ Managing Director, said: “We believe that this event is an excellent way of attracting new audiences to the game worldwide, and hope that our production and commentary teams will ensure the best possible experience for viewers across six continents.”
There will also be extensive radio coverage of the ICC World Twenty20. In Sri Lanka, national broadcaster Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) will cover the event. Outside of host country, the event will have radio coverage from Channel 2 (Middle East and North America), All India Radio (India) BBC (UK), SABC (South Africa), Sport Radio (New Zealand), Croc Media (Australia) and CMC (Caribbean). Channel 2 is also doing live commentary on the internet via Cricket Radio.
Held of the tournament on Saturday was the LG ICC Awards 2012, considered as the Oscars of the cricket.
The match referees’ responsibilities throughout the men’s tournament will be shared between Ranjan Madugalle and Jeff Crowe of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Match Referees while Graeme La Brooy of the ICC Panel of Regional Referees, will be the match referee for the 21 and 23 September matches in Pallekele before travelling to Galle to oversee women’s group stage of the event which will take place from 26 September to 1 October.
The on-field responsibilities will be shared by all the 12 umpires from the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, namely: Billy Bowden, Aleem Dar, Steve Davis, Kumar Dharmasena, Marais Erasmus, Ian Gould, Tony Hill, Richard Kettleborough, Nigel Llong, Asad Rauf, Simon Taufel and Rod Tucker, who will be joined by Bruce Oxenford of the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires.
South Africa hosted the inaugural ICC World T20 t in 2007, which was won by India in a dramatic final against Pakistan at The Wanderers. The tournament will also remembered for Yuvraj Singh hitting six sixes in one over against England and the first-ever Twenty20 International hundred, which was scored by Chris Gayle.
Pakistan won the second edition of the men’s tournament, which took place in England in 2009. It defeated Sri Lanka in the final of the event at Lord’s, although Tillakaratne Dilshan won the Player of the Tournament Award. Associate Members enjoyed great success with the Netherlands defeating England and Ireland beating Bangladesh.
In 2009, the first-ever women’s tournament was also held alongside the men’s event, with double headers of matches played at the semi-finals and final stage. England won the tournament after defeating New Zealand in the final after an outstanding display by Katherine Brunt.
In 2010, England’s men captured its first-ever ICC global title, defeating Australia by seven wickets in the final, while Australia’s women won a close final against New Zealand by three runs.

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