Magazine article African Business

Bonanza for South Africa. (Sport: Cricket World Cup)

Magazine article African Business

Bonanza for South Africa. (Sport: Cricket World Cup)

Article excerpt

This month sees the start of one of the world's great sporting competition - the Cricket World Cup which begins February 9 in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Some 800,000 tickets have already been sold and the television audience world-wide will be in billions. South Africa will not only make a financial killing, it will gain immensely in kudos as host of one the globe's premier tournaments. There will be plenty of money for the teams as well. ANVER VERSI and TOM NEVIN examine the form book.

For South Africa the Cup promises to be a money-spinner of mammoth proportions. Economists are predicting an inflow of about R4bn in foreign currency directly due to the Cup, while cricket administrators are counting their gate revenues at around R80m. Hotels, guest houses and B&Bs are booked out at match venue sites while home owners are scoring sixes by renting out their homes, those near the cricket grounds asking and getting phenomenal rents. The owner of a five-bedroom home within walking distance of Newlands Cricket Ground in Cape Town will reportedly rake in R15,000 a day from an eight-man group of enthusiastic Australian fans.

Had South Africa won the cricket World Cup four years ago, the team would have shared first prize of a measly $625,000. If they do it at this year's Cup final at Wanderers' Cricket Ground in Johannesburg on March 23, they'll walk away with $2m - about R17m in South African currency - of the $5m prize money at stake. This compares with a total pot of just $1m in the 1999 competition.

The sport's ruling body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), says a reason the total prize money has been so significantly increased is to beat the bookmakers. The Council believes a dramatically enhanced stake to play for will curb the temptation of players succumbing to baits dangled by bookmakers.

What's more, Standard Bank, the South African national one-day team's sponsor, has anteed up an additional R4m incentive for the home team if they win the World Cup.

Of the 14 teams competing, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Namibia are African. Other teams are: Australia, Pakistan, India, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, Canada and The Netherlands.

With so much, including national pride at stake, the competition will be fierce. Which team captain will finally mount the rostrum to collect the trophy and pick up a cheque for $2m? We take a look at some of the front runners:

AUSTRALIA

On current form, Australia is a class apart in all departments - batting, bowling and fielding. No other team can live with Ricky Ponting and his boys on a consistent basis. Only South Africa, playing at home on grassy pitches, comes close. But one bad day in the World Cup at the later stages can upset all form and plans -- and even Australia cannot avoid a bad day now and then.

Australia's batting shows no weakness from the openers downwards. Matthew Hayden has been in brilliant form, pummelling England's bowlers in the recently completed Ashes Test series to all corners of the field. Ponting himself is a superb stylist with a thrilling array of strokes.

Adam Gilchrist, who will open with Hayden, has been enjoying an incredible few years, racing to centuries with blistering stokes all around the wicket. He is the most feared batsman in world cricket today.

The bowling will be led by paceman Glen McGrath and spinner Shane Warne. There is a saying doing the circuits: 'If Glen don't get you, Warnie sure will." Brett Lee is the second fastest bowler (after Pakistan's Shoaib Akhtar) in the world who seems to delight in bowling throat-high bouncers.

The Australian fielding and catching is second only to that of South Africa, although any Aussie will hotly dispute this insisting that they are the best fielders in the world.

World Cup track record: Runners up in 1975, winners in 1987, runners up in 1996 and current champions, having won the last event in 1999. …

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