Marathon men take aim at World Cup

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, March 10, 2007 (AFP) –
Thirty-two years after the first World Cup was decided over a modest five playing days, the 2007 edition will open on Sunday and will go on and on until April 28.

The 16-team World Cup in the Caribbean will last 48 days with 51 matches broadcast live to an estimated world-wide audience of 1.5 billion people.

Those are monstrous proportions compared to the first tournament in England in 1975 when the West Indies won the first of their two world titles.

Back then Clive Lloyd’s West Indians pocketed 4,000 British pounds and 10,000 pounds for retaining the title in 1979.

The 2007 champions will take home a cool 2.2 million dollars.

But to reach that stage, the tournament’s leading players will face a test as much of stamina, patience and purse strings as of bat and ball.

Selecting a winner is no easy task in a tournament which lasts for the best part of two months and involves an exhausting schedule of inter-island travel.

Even world champions Australia, beaten three times in a row by England and then suffering at the hands of New Zealand earlier in the year, are looking vulnerable.

They are without strike bowler Brett Lee who