Gearing up for the big game

VIVEK BENDRE

“We are excited about the World Cup, more for the reason that we were able to snare that important match of the competition (India versus Pakistan),” says the Premier of South Australia, Jay Wilson Weatherill, in a chat with G. Viswanath.

South Australia is going all out to ensure that the 2015 ICC World Cup is a memorable affair for its sports-loving public in general and cricket fans in particular. The famous Adelaide Oval will host four matches including a quarterfinal but, as the Premier of South Australia, Jay Wilson Weatherill, says in an exclusive interview with Sportstar, the buzz is around the India-Pakistan match, scheduled to be played at the refurbished Oval on February 15, 2015.

The 50-year-old Premier’s first impressions of a cricket match at the Oval were of England’s Derek Underwood running through Australia, taking seven for 113 in the fifth Test of the 1975 Ashes series. Weatherill is also a keen tennis fan and has followed the career of John Newcombe. Surprisingly though, he is not much of an admirer of Australian Rules Football.

“We will be inviting our local legends to be part of such a great cricketing event in Adelaide,” says Mr. Weatherill.

Excerpts:

Question: So, the buzz is all about the India-Pakistan match at the Adelaide Oval in the 2015 ICC World Cup?

Answer: Absolutely, everything is revolving around it. We are excited about the World Cup, more for the reason that we were able to snare that important match of the competition. A number of people are trying to buy the tickets for this match, but I think the match tickets have been sold out. We expect thousands of Indians from all over Australia to come to Adelaide; we also expect some overseas Indians as well. I think we have about 18,000 Indians based in South Australia. Indians are the fastest growing segment with regard to migration to South Australia; they are not the largest group though. We want to improve ties with India; sporting ties are a common tradition.

Adelaide is also famous for Don Bradman and the Chappell brothers — Ian, Greg and Trevor. Do the Chappell brothers still help draw people to cricket matches?

They do. The Oval has been redeveloped. It was always a beautiful cricket arena and now it has been turned into a world-class stadium. And there are a number of significant stands named after Bradman and the Chappells. There’s also a museum within the stadium. There’s lot of cricket history which includes significant historical tribute to Don Bradman.

Has the Oval undergone a big change?

The Oval sits in our parklands right next to river Torrens. As part of its redevelopment, new stands were created that look towards the Oval and also the parklands. A new set of function spaces was also created for conventions and meetings. The Oval has become more than a sporting venue now; it’s become a substantial entertainment and convention place. We have managed to maintain the view of the Cathedral, the mounds that are famous and the scoreboard. All that the people loved about the Adelaide Oval are there.

What are the other activities you are planning around the World Cup?

This is a substantial event and so it’s a great opportunity to project South Australia. Because India-Pakistan is the first game, we are encouraging teams to be based in South Australia so that we may get to see them longer. We are also planning some cultural events with India by encouraging some young Indian cricketers to come, train and play.

What about the Indian schoolboys team playing matches in Adelaide and also being taken for the India-Pakistan match?

The last time we were here, we met some Board officials and tried to pitch for the India-Pakistan match. We also promoted this idea of collaboration with the young cricketers. We met Arun Jaitley and received a lot of support.

Do you follow the Ashes?

Oh, yes. We have to follow the Ashes. The new Oval had its first try-out last December. It was exciting and we were all in a beautiful room looking at the Oval. Mitch (Johnson) was bowling his thunderbolts and he took seven wickets.

You must be happy that a South Australian, Darren Lehmann, is coach of the Australian team now?

Yes. He really has done something with the team. He’s great for us and it’s nice that he’s got to that position. He seems to have a lovely easy-going style and that works well with the players.