Cricket: World Cup tickets on sale

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The Independent Online
NO DOUBT mindful of the ticketing farce surrounding the footballing equivalent due to start next month, the England and Wales Cricket Board has released half a million World Cup tickets for sale to the public.

However, with the first match not due to start until this time next year, decisions to buy tickets may seem a long way off. Indeed, with only 10,000 tickets available to the public for the final at Lord's, it looks as if the only decision available to ditherers will be whether to watch the match on terrestrial or satellite television.

The tournament, which begins on 14 May next year at Lord's, when England play the current holders, Sri Lanka, will comprise 42 matches. Initially the 12 teams will be split into two groups of six, each team playing the other members of their group. There then follows the Super Six part of the tournament, when the top three teams from each group play the successful teams in the other group. In all, nine matches will be played in this phase, from which the four semi-finalists will be decided.

On a good day, Lord's holds 30,000, and the final on 20 June will be brimming. As the private club which owns Lord's, the MCC will have 8,500 tickets allocated to it for purchase by its 17,000 members. The remainder of the final tickets will go to debenture holders (2,000), the International Cricket Council and sponsors (5,000), and overseas sales (4,000).

The bad or good news, depending on whether you have both the time and the resources, is that few, if any, final tickets will be available without adopting a "final linked package." This comprises a minimum of six games, including at least three in the first round of group matches. Even then, no more than four tickets will be available per application for any match, and only two for the final.

If England were to win through to the final, it would be possible to watch seven of their 10 games for as little as pounds 190. The same amount gets you about 90 minutes of Pavarotti, or three FA Cup finals, providing you know the right people.

Keen to avoid accusations of crusty elitism, the organisers are calling the event the "New faces of cricket." With its catchy "Booker T goes salsa" theme tune, they are hoping to "take the game to the people with a Carnival theme."

Anyone interested should phone 0870 606 1999, and leave their name and address. Application forms - which can be also picked up at any of the first-class cricket grounds, as well as nationwide branches of the NatWest Bank - will then be sent out. Although tickets will not be issued until April next year, a credit card line will be in operation from the end of July.