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|May 14, 1999||
World Cup off to low key start
It was cold, it was overcast, the temperature hovered around the 13 degree celsius mark, the mandatory spots of rain dropped down -- just the kind of day you would expect, at the start of an English summer.
Except, of course, that today was also the start of the seventh edition of the World Cup.
Three years ago, Calcutta staged a spectacular -- and spectacularly mismanaged -- opening ceremony that lasted a good three hours. Those who were there still chuckle over the gaffes. The British, with their penchant for understatement, went the other way, with perhaps the most low key inaugural seen in a long while.
Four huge cricket balls were placed on the ground. Bunches of schoolboys wearing the various team colours trooped out onto the ground, bearing the team flags. The World Cup followed, and was installed on a pedestal out in mid-pitch.
Tony Blair, prime minister of Britain, trooped out accompanied by Tony Lewis, president of the MCC, Jagmohan Dalmiya, president of the ICC, and Lord McLurin.
In a brief speech, Blair recalled the record-breaking performances seen already in previous World Cups, expressed the hope that this latest one would produce its fair share of stellar performances, and declared the World Cup officially open.
And that was it. A brief, subdued opening ceremony -- if you blinked, you missed it.
But then, who needs hype, with England and Sri Lanka standing by to begin the actual proceedings?
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