Originally Posted by Andrew Miller
The opening ceremony
01.10GMT And so it is. As the fireworks erupt overhead, and the shimmering dancers shimmer their way to the exits, it's time for the first act of the ninth World Cup to draw to a close. And you know what? I rather enjoyed that. The Caribbean has started its 50 days of festivities in grand style. Now it's time for the on-field action to begin. Join us here at Cricinfo for live and unrivalled coverage of all 51 matches, starting with West Indies against Pakistan, from Sabina Park, Kingston, on Tuesday.
01.05GMT "Wonderful world, beautiful people," sings our Jimmy, as the flags of the host nations are paraded on the outfield. And now all the cast are on the field as well. I sense a grand finale is brewing.
01.00GMT Here comes Jimmy Cliff, a modern-day reggae star, joined on stage by Tony Rebel and Dwight Richards. "People," they declare. "Let's get together and show our power all over the world." Word.
00.55GMT The stadium lights have all gone out. No, don't worry, it's deliberate. There's a special guest being beamed onto the main stage. If it's Jamaica, no party is complete without Bob Marley. Here's Redemption Song, and Three Little Birds, as sung - live - by his former backing singers, I Three. They complete their medley with the words: "Let's get together and feel alright." And you can't say fairer than that.
00.50GMT It's carnival time now - lots of silver and blue booty-shakers from Trinidad and Tobago, and some vast great king and queen costumes. Huge great floats with big teeth and wings. Mildly scary at this time of night. There are all doing a conga round the pitch now, singing "Cricket is my passion, it is in my veins..."
00.48GMT We have a veritable riot of colour on the pitch now. St Lucia's contribution are nothing short of techicolor yetis - "pitchipatchi dancers" I think they are called.
00.45GMT Bollywood has long since tuned out, but here's a little Indian music to change the mood. Lots of Asian influence throughout the Caribbean, of course, especially in Trinidad and Guyana. And lots of Chinese influence in the building of these stadia. Now we've got lots of "plantation girls" all dressed in white on the outfield. Very elegant too, as a clarinet player serenades them all. "What a pretty array of parasols."
00.40GMT A fine and catchy tune comes to an end. So let's have some fire-eaters to pass the time between songs. That didn't take long - I guess there's only so much fire you can eat. Lots of "winged runners" now run onto the field. "They look like butterflies, so many different colours too," says the voiceover. I think they are getting a little jaded. "This represents the freedom that wings give you." Ah yes, that'd be it.
00.35GMT "Everybody come and celebrate," sing the singers, as the outfield turns into four shimmering circles of dancers. Nice choreography if you can get it. All the islands are getting name-checked in verse. "If you know what I mean, then scream."
00.30GMT We have 2000 yards of yellow fabric now lying on the outfield, representing "the rays of the sun". Glad we cleared that one up. Meanwhile up on the stage, lots of lovelies in very un-PC cricket garb are strutting their stuff. I thought they did away with mini-skirts for cricket around the time that England last won the (women's) World Cup.
00.25GMT One-hundred-and-eighty drummers give way to the choir. "Cricket Lovely Cricket" they all sing lustily. As well they might. That volcanic theme is still in evidence, lots of red-and-gold shimmering going on on stage.
00.20GMT A chap blows a conch-shell. That used to be the sound that summoned slaves to the fields, now it's inviting everyone to come and join in some serious fun-and-games. Some volcanic theme going on, as the players "flow down from the stage like lava". The African drums on display are being given their own "yard style".
00.15GMT There are stiltwalkers on the outfield! The groundsman will be doing his nut ... it's just as well the Trelawny Stadium has done its bit for this tournament. And what a good bit it has done too. In fact, they are stilt-cricketers. I've never seen a man on stilts run into bowl before. Quite a good, loose-limbed action. Got to be careful of over-stepping.
00.12GMT Here's Sir Garfield Sobers, and the Ninth ICC Cricket World Cup has been declared officially open! And there go the fireworks, bursting against the night sky, as the cricketers leave the field and the performers take the stage once again for "an exciting display of energy".
00.11GMT Here comes Steve Bucknor to give the umpires' pledge. I can honestly say I thought, until he opened his mouth just this second, that he was a mute.
00.09GMT The players in front of the podium are starting to sway from leg to leg now. The trooping of the colour, this ain't. Here's Brian Lara to speak for the teams. "What a great honour," he begins. "We promise we shall play to the best of our ability, respect the laws, observe the rules, commit to highest standards of sportsmanship. To all the cricketers, may the best team win, and to all the visitors, may you witness one of the greatest supporting spectacles."
00.04GMT Brace yourselves. It's Percy Sonn. "The West Indies must rank as the most idyllic and stunningly aesthetic cricket-playing country in the world," announces the President of the ICC. Gosh, try saying "stunningly aesthetic" when you're drunk ...
00.00GMT Right, it's dignitary time. Here's Ernest Valentine-Banks, vice-president of the WICB. "This is what they thought was mission impossible," he intones, as the "best World Cup ever" is promised from the podium. "We have overcome the constraints of nine sovereign states, in the most ambitious event ever untaken by the collective Caribbean."
23.58GMT And everyone's in place, it's time for the World Cup song, as performed by Shaggy and Faye Ann-Lyons among others. Oh God, Mello the mascot's got a bat. What is he about to do? Can't quite hear the lyrics, although they involve "put your hands up", "love and unity", "clap your hands", "come together", "play the beautiful game" and "the rules never change". Yes, they do! What about Powerplays, supersubs, oh never mind ...
23.56GMT Sri Lankans can't help but smile all the time, especially Muttiah Muralitharan. They are followed by Prosper Utseya's Zimbabweans, and then, finally and to a massive roar, the West Indians - "The Inaugural Champions" as Cozier reminds us, as Brian Lara files past to lead his side to their place in the line-up.
23.54GMT New Zealand plod through, proud semi-finalists on occasions too numerous to reiterate. Pakistan look cheery enough as they file past, as Craig Wright leads out the Scotland squad, followed by South Africa in green blazers with yellow pinstripes. "Twice denied the finals by freak circumstances," says Cozier. And I guess he's right.
23.52GMT Ireland somehow resist the temptation to jig their way out to the middle. Kenya, in their sharp green suits lead the African contingent. The Netherlands, on the other hand, have found themselves some hideous orange blazers. There's not a lot you can do with those national colours, I guess.
23.50GMT Canada emerge next, followed by England, who look really rather unamused by all of this. Kevin Pietersen has at least thought to bring his camera. India look much more cheerful, with Sachin Tendulkar grinning ear from ear.
23.46GMT First out are the Aussies, all bleach-blond smiles in their dapper suits and ties. Habibul Bashar leads the Bangladeshis, and the Bermudans come next, tailing a lady in a frighteningly shocking-pink "set-girl costume". Special mention is made of their heavyweight champion, Dwayne Leverock.
23.44GMT Oh God, they couldn't keep him away for ever. Here's the World Cup mascot, Mello, a sort of bear of no particular racial origin, who represents shared values. And can't bat for toffee. He's followed by Tony Cozier, who is introducing the teams. As the Parade of Teams begins.
23.40GMT "Now that we've found love, what are we gonna do?" ask Third World, rhetorically. Spread it all over the world, that's that they gonna do.
23.35GMT Three decades of music being represented, as Third World take the stage. They once opened for the Jackson Five, dontchaknow. "Everything has a value, and everything has a price. But I'm committed, baby, to keeping this love alive." Sing it brother.
23.31GMT The Prime Ministers are grinding in the VIP Seats - a sight we shouldn't have to see - as Ian Bishop collars Ricky Ponting. "I've really enjoyed the cricket experience here in the Caribbean, I'm very excited, we had a good win against England and the real stuff is around the corner." And Ponting is now a Sean Paul fan, apparently.
23.30GMT Now we go all instrumental, as a guitarist, a saxophonist and a drummer named "Sly" take up the reins. All Jamaican legends, though I've dropped my programme notes and can't name them all. "Sly and Robbie have worked with Mick Jagger and Queen Latifah" says the voiceover, helpfully.
23.29GMT The beat goes on, and onto stage comes Half Pint, with dreadlocks down to his knees, and soul in his voice. "Half Pint gives a full performance," says the voiceover. I wasn't going there, but it's safe now.
23.27GMT "Reggae is calling out to the world, as West Indies welcomes the world," intones the voiceover. I couldn't put it better myself, so I won't. Here comes Gregory Isaacs, "the cool ruler", to take over the vocal duties in his snappy red jacket and panama.
23.25GMT Time for some old-school reggae with Beres Hammond, a diffident chap in a beret, and Baju Banton, a bouncy wild-child with dreadlocks and a snazzy black-and-white shirt. "Can you play some more," they sing. I think they might just do that.
Well, it's easy to sneer about opening ceremonies, but this is genuinely entertaining without being embarrassing. Unlike the 1999 World Cup opener at Lord's, which was entertaining only because it was embarrassing. And because Tony Blair's microphone fused in the rain.
23.20GMT A multi-awardwinning ragga artist named Sean Paul is next, "a dancehall superstar" is how I think he was described, though I'm not sure what halls he dances in. His troupe seem to have taken a leaf out of the Irish book with some nimble foot movement. Very shiny costumes too. Not sure what he's singing about, but his ladies seem enthused. "Give it up to me", it would seem.
23.16GMT Ian Bishop is backstage, and reports that everyone is excited. Not as excited as Lucky Dube, the king of African reggae. It's his turn to take centre stage, accompanied by his red, yellow and green posse of singers. Those are some ample ladies. Good voices too.
23.12GMT Good grief, more Irish japery on stage! One World Cup appearance, and they take over ... Still, that's some spectacular fiddling from John Duffy, accompanied by his brother David on drums. The Duffys is what the band is called. Traditional Irish folk songs to modern pop is what they play, and they are available for weddings and barmitzvahs.
23.10GMT Ian Bishop is interviewing Chris Gayle on stage. "Hopefully West Indies can do well in the World Cup, and that everyone eats some jerk chicken while they're here. Aright." At least, that's a synopsis of what he said.
23.05GMT Time to chill things down a bit, with some mellow "Sounds of the Caribbean". We've got tabla drums and sitars up on stage, and of course, a pair of steel drums. This is a "new style of music from Trinidad" apparently. A fusion of cultures. How appropriate.
Jazzy Jones, one of Jamaica's big-time drummers, has joined the jamming session now.
23.00GMT Now it's Alyson Hinds coming at us, with some frankly outrageous booty-shaking, with Marcel Marcano adding some gruff vocals, and some bloke in a red-and-yellow flame suit adding his own style. It's going them dancing in the aisles now, in fact, that looks like Dwayne Bravo who was "feelin' hot hot hot" just then.
22.55GMT Right, now we're back with a bang, with an order to "put our hands in the air". No, it's not a hold-up, it's Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, who are "injecting some carnival spirit into proceedings". There are some Sensai costumes coming at us from Dominica, apparently. Not entirely sure what that means, but we're lovin' it nonetheless.
22.50GMT A bit of a lull in proceedings now as the sun begins to set over the Caribbean. Time for some adverts and a cup of tea. There are, how can we put it, quite a few sponsors who'd like to get their message across.
22.45GMT Begorrah, they get everywhere. Here come a gaggle of Irish dancers. Three of them to be precise. Jolly nimble on their feet they are too. Don't do a lot with their arms, but hey ho.
Ooh, they clapped for a moment there. Splendid jiggery-pokery going out on the stage. The tune sounds remarkably like the final scenes of "Last of the Mohicans" if anyone's ever seen that. Good flick.
22.40GMT Now here's a flavour of the eighth World Cup in South Africa - here's a gaggle of drummers called, I think, "Drum Cafe". They were formed in Johannesburg and have spread all over South Africa, and now all the way to the Caribbean. Good work drummers. They've performed for the Royal Family, Nelson Mandela and George Bush apparently.
"Usually when they perform, the lines between performer and audience blur," announce the voiceover people, clearly not reading from their programme notes.
22.35GMT That completes the initial greetings. Now the stage is cleared, and the big screen is devoted to the World Cup's anti-Aids message. The ICC is supporting UNICEF and UNAIDS to spread the message throughout the Caribbean, the second-most affected region in the world, after sub-Saharan Africa.
And now here comes the singer, Ashe, to put the message to music. "We've got to find a way to protect the future," she sings as she dances across the outfield with her troupe of backing singers. Quite so. "Using entertainment to encourage social change," intones the stadium announcer.
22.20GMT "This evening I am immensely proud to be a West Indian," says Chris Dehring, the chief executive of the organising committee. "This is the moment we have been planning for ten years. This is the moment that makes the sweat and tears worthwhile."
The Ht Ron Dr Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, whose island was so devastated by Hurricane Ivan three years ago, is next up to the podium. "This is the birth of a new dawn," he announces, as he talks of the manner in which the various nations of the Caribbean have worked together to make this event happen. "Throughout our history West Indies have enjoyed and played this game in the best spirit."
Portia Simpson Miller, the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica, extends her greetings to the assembled throng. "The moment is finally here. Jamaica is a cricket-loving country, the sport is deeply embedded in our hearts and lives. We're hear to cheer on every team, as we rally round the West Indies."
22.15GMT Well, here it is. The Cricket World Cup is upon us. The cricketers of 16 nations are gathered at the Greenfields Stadium, Trelawny, the newly-built stadium on the north coast of Jamaica, to take part in the opening ceremony of the ninth Cricket World Cup. We have been serenaded by the Jamaican Military Band, who marched in the formation "CWC 07" and by the singer, Sanchez, who belted out the Jamaican national anthem.