ICC Women's World Cup kicks off

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/i/icclogo.jpg' class='caption'> A glittering ceremony marked the beginning of the ICC Women's World Cup championship, which is being held under the aegis of ICC this year.

Updated: March 05, 2009 17:19 IST
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A glittering ceremony marked the beginning of the ICC Women's World Cup Cricket championship, which is being held under the aegis of International Cricket Council this year for the first time, at the iconic Luna Park here on Thursday.

Cricket Australia Chairman and ICC director Jack Clarke launched the sixteen-day tournament, participated by eight countries including defending champions Australia, besides India and England.

"We look forward to the tournament showcasing women's cricket around the world. We hope that the staging of this event will further accelerate Cricket Australia's vision for women's cricket in this country.

"The ICC wants cricket to be a genuinely global sport and to achieve that goal cricket has to be a genuine global sport for girls and women, we as well as boys and men," Clarke said.

All the participants were photographed together in the shadow of famous Sydney Opera House. Players and officials were then ferried to the main venue, Luna Park for an official welcome function, hosted by former Australia cricketer Ian Healy, an ICC release said.

"This will be an exciting event which will take women's cricket to new heights and will hopefully produce role models. I know the competitors are extremely excited and so is the ICC as it the first time this event is being staged under our umbrella.

"It has only been four years since women's cricket came under the ICC's control but its rapid growth since that time can be gauged from the fact that from 15 members playing the sport in 2005, we now have 78 members who are involved in some form of women's and girls' cricket," ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat said on the occasion.

India will now travel to Bowral where they will take on arch-rival Pakistan in the opening encounter on Saturday, while two-time champion England will take on Sri Lanka in Canberra on the same day.

This is the first World Cup since ICC's integration with the International Women's Cricket Council (IWCC) in 2005.

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