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50-over World Cup game 'still the one'

The Cricket World Cup's controlling body says the 50-over format is still the most popular form of the sport worldwide and it is confident fans will flock to the games in 2015 because ''it's real''.

Canberra will host three games of the World Cup at a revamped Manuka Oval featuring previous winners South Africa and the West Indies as well as Cinderella story Afghanistan.

But the one-day format has come under increasing pressure in recent years since the advent of Twenty20 cricket. It has struggled to find relevance wedged in between traditional Test cricket and the hit-and-giggle T20 format, which was developed to attract new fans to cricket.

Meaningless series trotted out simply to appease the voracious appetite of the Indian market have been cited as one problem, although a small victory has been claimed in the past week with Australia and India playing out two high-scoring 50-over games that both finished with successful run chases.

But apart from the odd good game the seven one-dayers have little context on the world stage, especially with an Ashes series imminent.

ICC Cricket World Cup organising committee chief executive John Harnden was confident of high interest in the tournament, despite the format's woes.


He said playing for the World Cup gave every game relevance.

''This is about the World Cup, this is about the prize everyone wants to win and 50-over cricket is still the most popular form of cricket on a global basis,'' he said.

''And everything we've seen and heard and researched today is people see this as the World Cup. This isn't just about more 50-over cricket, it's about context, it's about the best players in the world playing for the prize, for many of them that is the greatest prize.

''No question, in Australia and England the Ashes rates up there, but this is the prize, so when you have the world's best players playing for something they want to win, it doesn't matter what sport it is, that is what creates that captivating imagery and that's what people want to come and be part of, because it's real.''

Manuka will host three World Cup games, starting with Bangladesh and Afghanistan on February 18, then West Indies v Zimbabwe six days later and finishing up with South Africa against Ireland on March 3.

All games will be played under the new lights and in front of a 15,000-capacity crowd.

Harnden was confident Canberra would sell out all three games with a combination of travelling fans and local cricket supporters.

The final will played at the MCG on March 29.