Holder, captains meet Queen, Prince Harry as World Cup opens

West Indies captain Jason Holder meets the Queen at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

LONDON,  CMC – West Indies’ Jason Holder was among 10 captains who took a break from team preparations on Wednesday to meet the Queen and Prince Harry, as historic London erupted in colourful and musical celebrations as it prepared to welcome today’s start of the 12th ICC World Cup.

Dressed formally in his West Indies team blazer, Holder joined his contemporaries at Buckingham Palace for the event, which marked the final day before hostilities began in the May 30 to July 14 showpiece, which will spawn 10 cities across the country.

The skippers then paraded before their flags on the Mall, the popular thoroughfare which leads to the Palace, where a massive celebration was held involving celebrities like great former West Indies captain Sir Vivian Richards and celebrated Jamaican Olympic sprinter, Yohan Blake.

Former Australia captain, Michael Clarke, who lifted the World Cup trophy four years ago in Melbourne, said the tournament would be a very competitive affair.

“Some of the greatest memories of my career were playing in this competition so to have been able to have held this trophy up as captain in 2015 was very special,” said Clarke.

“I think there’s five or six teams that can win it. England are in great form and their preparation has been outstanding so they are obviously the favourites.”

England, the current world number ones and heavy tournament favourites, will raise the curtain on the World Cup when they clash with South Africa at the Oval today.

West Indies, meanwhile, open their campaign on Friday when they take on Pakistan at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.

The Caribbean side are coming off a powerful showing against New Zealand in Bristol on Tuesday when they amassed 421 to come away with a 91-run victory in their final official warm-up.    “Any win is a good win especially with the position we’re in. We’re building towards something special in the World Cup and to get this momentum going into the first game against Pakistan I think is key,” Holder said following the victory.

“It was really good to see batsmen make full use of the surface and credit to everybody.”

West Indies won the first two editions of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979 under legendary captain Clive Lloyd but have failed to make an impression since.

In the last World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, West Indies were good enough to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament before bowing out to New Zealand.

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