The International Cricket Council on Thursday announced the appointment of its ambassadors for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. India's stand-in captain Virat Kohli is among a star-studded line-up that includes Australia fast-bowler Mitchell Johnson, New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, Sri Lanka's former captain Kumar Sangakkara and Australia's Shane Watson.
The ICC Ambassadors will add their support and considerable profile in the build-up to and during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, including involvement in the ICC's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme and event promotions. (Also read: ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy Sky Dives Into Jurien Bay, Western Australia)
The ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will start on February 14 with New Zealand taking on Sri Lanka in a day match in Christchurch, while on the same day in Melbourne, co-host Australia will go head to head with England in a day/night match. Melbourne will also host the final on March 29.
Australia fast bowler and World Cup winner, Johnson, was delighted to be part of the elite group that will be supporting the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
"As Australia and New Zealand gear up to host ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, I am extremely proud and delighted to be associated with the competition as an ambassador. I look forward to helping promote what is set to be a fascinating tournament with some outstanding teams gearing up to claim cricket's most coveted prize.
"I have been fortunate to participate in two World Cups to date and the Australia team is working hard to head into this tournament with some form and momentum. The tournament is going to really capture the imagination of the Australian and New Zealand public and there's a real buzz about it. I'm sure all lovers of the game will relish it as much as the players," said Johnson.
Virat Kohli, a star for India in their victorious 2011 Cricket World Cup campaign, said: "It is a matter of pride to be selected as the ambassador of ICC. I thank ICC for bestowing this honour upon me. As a cricketer, I wish to spread the passion of cricket to grassroot levels and I look at this as an opportunity to unify global initiatives for cricket throughout the world."
Black Caps captain McCullum, who has featured in the past three World Cups, said: "With the World Cup just months away, no doubt all countries will be actively plotting and planning their campaigns. In 1992 our sport captivated the nations of both New Zealand and Australia, and I have no doubt the 2015 edition will do just the same.Â May the best team win!"
Sangakkara, who featured in the 2007 and 2011 finals in the West Indies and India, said: "Like many, I can't wait for the start of the 2015 tournament in Australia and New Zealand, which I am sure will be a huge success. As an event ambassador I hope to assist the ICC in promoting the values and excitement of the World Cup, as well as supporting the ICC's significant community programmes off the field that have become an important part of this great event."
Watson, one of the world's leading all-rounders who tasted World Cup glory in 2007, commented: "I am very honoured and thrilled to be an ambassador for the ICC and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Having played in the 2007 and 2011 World Cup campaigns, it truly is a special occasion and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a World Cup at home against the best teams in the world."
A total of 49 matches will be played across 14 venues, seven in Australia (Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney) and seven in New Zealand (Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Napier, Nelson and Wellington).