England, South Africa to face off in 2019 WC opener on May 30

Hosts England will open the 2019 World Cup, against South Africa at the Oval on May 30 as the three-time finalists will have another shot at winning the 50-over quadrennial global competition. The 10-team mega event will be played across 11 venues in 10 cities, and will be played in the round-robin format like the 1992 World Cup, albeit the 2019 event will have one more team than the 1992 edition.

Unlike the 2015 World Cup and the 2017 Champions Trophy, India don’t begin their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan, as they take on South Africa first, on June 5 in Southampton. The much-awaited Indo-Pak clash will be played out on a Sunday (June 16), at Old Trafford in Manchester. Old Trafford, though, doesn’t host just one marquee clash and will also stage the Australia-South Africa game and the first semifinal too. The other semifinal will be played at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground with the final at the Lord’s on July 14. All knockout contests are followed by a reserve day.

ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said: “It’s always an exciting moment ahead of any major event to announce the schedule and for the ICC Cricket World Cup. Next summer, fans around the world will be treated to compelling and competitive cricket as the best teams in the world go head to head in this round robin format for the right to be crowned world champions.

“This schedule also gives fans across England and Wales the opportunity to watch world-class cricket on their doorstep with all teams moving around the country. We know from previous ICC events that every country will be proudly supported at each of the venues creating an exceptional atmosphere and a real celebration of the game.”

Among the other awaited clashes is the Trans-Tasman rivalry, between the two finalists from the previous edition, that will be played at the Lord’s in a day-night affair between Australia and New Zealand on June 29. The Champions Trophy winners, Pakistan, will begin their sojourn against the reigning World T20 champions, Windies, on May 31. The defending World Cup winners, Australia, will start their title defence on June 1, against Afghanistan, who won the recently-concluded ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe.

In total, there will be 48 matches played across 46 days, with every Saturday hosting double-headers throughout the league stage, with the second of those games being day-nighters. Only one weekday (June 5), when India play their opening game, is also a double-header day. Bar the first weekend, India will play a match during every other weekend through the round-robin stage. While Old Trafford, Manchester, will host the most games in the event – six, Birmingham, Southampton, Lord’s, the Oval and Nottingham will stage five games apiece.

The managing director of the tournament, Steve Elworthy, said: “Today’s announcement of the schedule is another important moment in the build-up to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 – the moment that the tournament comes to life for teams and cricket lovers across the world. This is the flagship event in one-day cricket.

“There are some fantastic head-to-head fixtures – England v Australia at Lord’s and India v Pakistan at Old Trafford as well as England v India at Edgbaston spring to mind. As organisers we can promise the teams and fans we will work hard to provide the perfect stage for this event.

“Because of the UK’s diverse population, every competing team will also be guaranteed a ‘home crowd’ every time they play at some of the most iconic cricket grounds in the world.

“The Cricket World Cup is the third most-watched global event and has huge interest and appeal amongst cricket fans. Our ambition is to grow the game and deliver the greatest ever cricket celebration and with that in mind, we have very carefully developed our ticket prices.

“The prices have been tested with thousands of fans over the last six months, we have used external experts and consulted widely to ensure that they are good value versus other global sporting events. The prices balance accessibility with delivering the investment required to deliver a world-class event. All revenue is invested back in the game to grow cricket,” concluded Elworthy.

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