A giant inflatable cricket ball that has been bouncing around New Zealand’s seven ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 host cities and other tourist hotspots made its first appearance in the UK this week.

Following the success of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, New Zealand and Australia are readying themselves to welcome more than a million visitors and more than a billion global fans are expected to watch on television.

The opening match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be held in Christchurch on February 14. It is just over six months before England plays the first of its three pool matches in New Zealand – against New Zealand in Wellington on February 20.

New Zealand all-rounder and cricket legend Sir Richard Hadlee was in London this week promoting the event and meeting some of Tourism New Zealand’s key trade partners at a product workshop and party held at New Zealand House.

Danielle Genty-Nott, Tourism New Zealand Regional Manager UK and Europe said: “Next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup is the perfect opportunity to experience the buzz of a high stakes global sports event with ample time to explore our diverse and beautiful country in between matches.

“Visitors can expect a nationwide celebration from one of the most passionate sporting countries on earth whether they’re attending every match, taking in a game as part of a holiday itinerary or simply soaking up the atmosphere across the country.

“Sir Richard is a wonderful ambassador for the ICC Cricket World Cup, the sport of cricket and for New Zealand and we’re delighted for him to be able to share his experiences and knowledge of New Zealand with our UK partners.”

New Zealand will host 23 of the tournament’s total 49 games of the tournament across seven cities in each country.

In the pool stages, England fans will have the chance to visit New Zealand’s ‘coolest little capital’ Wellington to see their team take on the Black Caps, before basing themselves in the Christchurch region where England play Scotland on February 23 and Sri Lanka on March 1. Scottish fans will head further south to Dunedin – the Gaelic name for Edinburgh – for their opening match against the Black Caps on February 17 and Afghanistan on February 26, before heading to Nelson to take on Bangladesh on March 5.

The tournament will be the first in a line up of international sporting events in New Zealand over the next few years. The FIFA U20 World Cup is being held from May 30 – June 20 2015 followed by the World Masters Games in April 2017 and British & Irish Lions Tour also in 2017.

UK specialist operators selling ICC Cricket World Cup packages are Howzat; Sports Tours Plus; The Sporting Traveller; Thomas Cook Sport; Gullivers Sports Travel; Thomson Sport and Glory Days. In Ireland Abbey Travel is the ICC Cricket World Cup appointed agent.

Tickets are also available to buy online from NZ$20 per adult for pool matches at www.cricketworldcup.com