The 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup begins on Saturday. It is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet this year and is being co-hosted by Pacific neighbours New Zealand and Australia. Kiwi 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medallist and passionate Black Caps fan Nick Willis explains why cricket is the (second) greatest sport on earth.

An early passion

“I first became a big fan of cricket when Gavin Larsen, a former captain of the Wellington team I support, batted with a broken hand to help see out an innings in a New Zealand domestic cup final. It was really nail biting.

“I think cricket is a great summertime passion in New Zealand. It is so typical to have the radio on in the background listening to the cricket while painting the fence. The strange thing is I’ve never really played cricket as from a young age track and field was always my sport.”

Memories are made of these

“I have many great memories of watching the Black Caps play, but my favourite memory came at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, in 1999 when Chris Cairns scored 115 against India in a one-day international. The Indians just couldn’t stop him.”

Nick Willis ()

Willis' silver in 2008 was the only track medal won by any new New Zealand athlete

Keen follower

“It helps that I am often in New Zealand during the summer, so they are easy for me to follow. When I’m at home I’ll regularly have the radio on or be watching the TV. They [the Black Caps] are even easy to follow when I’m based in the US because it is massive sport in India and there is so much internet coverage.”

Supporting the outsider

“New Zealand are usually the underdogs when playing cricket and I think that is part of the appeal. I remember once going to watch a game in Wellington against Bangladesh, one of the sport’s minnows, and even though we won I did not get the same enjoyment out of it.”

There's runs in that bat and miles in those legs, apparently

Stat Man

“Another reason I like the game so much is I am fascinated by the statistics of the sport, very much like basketball. I love the statistical analysis. I’m fascinated about the runs are scored and how they tick along. I’ll be doing the same when following the cricket world cup.”

Taylor made

“It is great to watch the Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum hit a double century but another batsman, Ross Taylor, has always been a big favourite of mine. He has also been kind enough to respond to my tweets to him!”

Metric miler

“If one Black Cap would make the best 1500m runner I would probably say Kane Williamson – because he is the lightest. It is hard to run 1500m when you are carrying extra weight.”