Barbados has been awarded the honour of hosting the 2007 World Cup final, while Jamaica will host the opening ceremony. Sabina Park, in Jamaica, will also be the venue for the first game. The announcement was made by Chris Dehring, the managing director and CEO of the World Cup organising committee, in a function in Montego Bay.
Ehsan Mani, the president of the ICC, was present at the announcement, and called on the Caribbean to pull together to produce a memorable tournament. "Cricket has a unique ability to draw together the people of this glorious region," he said. "The strength of this bond will be crucial to the successful hosting of the ICC Cricket World Cup."
The allocation of venues was awarded in terms of "packages" of different kinds. Jamaica secured the "Yellow Package", considered the most attractive one, and will now get to host all six first-round matches that West Indies will be involved in. Apart from that, Jamaica will also get to host the opening ceremony and one of the two semi-finals. St Lucia will host the other semi-final.
Meanwhile, Barbados won the right to host the final and was awarded the "Black Package". St Kitts and Nevis were awarded the "Orange Package" and will host all the first-round matches featuring Australia.
Grenada and Guyana were offered the first and second "Green Packages" respectively and will both host second round and Super Eight matches. St Lucia, the venue where England will be based, landed the "Blue Package" and will host one of the semi-finals. India will be based in Trinidad & Tobago, which won "Brown Package" while Antigua got the "Red Package".
Grenada's Prime Minister, Dr Keith Mitchell, described cricket as "the glue that binds the region together: "I believe, without a doubt, that we in the Caribbean have the will, the ability and the creativity to rise to the challenge and make 2007 the most memorable of all cricket World Cups.
"Each of our countries individually and the region collectively, have a rich cricket history. We have given much to the cricket world and it is thus fitting that 2007 should be our year."
The World Cup will leave a rich economic legacy for the region as well, a fact that Teddy Griffiths, the president of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), was keen to emphasise. "Sadly we have not paid sufficient attention in the past to our cricketing facilities, but we owe a debt of gratitude [to the Caribbean heads of government] for staying the course with us and agreeing to undertake the significant investment that this event calls for."
There will be a total of 51 matches in the 2007 World Cup, with 24 games in the Super Eight stage, two semi-finals and then the final. It is estimated that the tournament, the third-biggest sports event in the world, will be viewed every day by hundreds of millions of people around the globe. New venues will be built in Antigua and Guyana, while the remaining six venues will undergo major upgrades in order to host international matches.
Jamaica - West Indies' matches, opening ceremony and opening match
St Lucia - England's matches
Trinidad & Tobago - India's matches
St Kitts & Nevis - Australia's matches
Antigua, Grenada, Guyana, Barbados
Semi-finals Jamaica and St Lucia