LONDON: Old-timers in the Lord's Pavilion are used to hearing a variety of sounds - the smack of leather on willow as the batsman plays a shot and polite applause if the stroke reaches the boundary.

Some of them may have been less familiar with pop singer Pink's 'Get the Party Started', a tune that was blaring out over the loudspeakers at Lord's in the build-up to the opening match of the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 between England and the Netherlands here on Friday.

Sadly, for organisers and those who'd planned the tournament's opening ceremony, the weather was not in a party mood.

Leaden skies and rain, which delayed the scheduled 1600GMT toss, were not conducive to the kind of theatrics associated with Twenty20.

Indeed conditions were reminiscent of those which accompanied the limp opening ceremony at Lord's for the 1999 50-over World Cup - the last time that tournament was played in England.

With a huge cover remaining resolutely in place over the pitch, while volunteers struggled to control giant England and Netherlands flags on the outfield, a temporary stage in front of the Pavilion, from which the singer Alesha Dixon had been due to perform, was hastily dismantled.

"Unfortunately, the opening ceremony has been canned," an International Cricket Council spokesman told reporters in the Lord's media centre. "But we will have a couple of speeches."

Many sports fans regard opening ceremonies a pointless irrelevance and not worth the bother unless a spectacular on the scale of the Beijing Olympics are being planned.

Meanwhile inside the Pavilion things carried on much as normal with one blazer wearing member continuing to read his copy of the Daily Mail to the exclusion of pretty much everything else around him.

As promised, the speeches duly followed with ICC president David Morgan and the Duke of Kent, the cousin of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, who is better known for his connection with tennis as President of the All England Club that runs the Wimbledon Championships, addressing the hardy crowd.

Then both teams were led out of the Pavilion by stewardesses from tournament sponsors Emirates Airlines for the national anthems.

Equally unusual was the sight of an international cricket match being played under the new, retractable, floodlights at Lord's.

At least the inclement weather showed these off to their best advantage and proved that, even at this most traditional of venues, not all innovation is frowned upon.

This though was a low key start with the hosts pitted against a minor cricket nation rather than Pakistan, the other side in Group B.

While there were a smattering of Dutch supporters in the ground, in traditional bright orange shirts and hats, the presence of Pakistan would certainly have led to a livelier atmosphere amongst the crowd.

But it might also have increased the chances of England losing their first match and so leading to a lessening of interest from home fans in the tournament - something organisers of team events are always keen to avoid.

Still the way England openers Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright set about the Dutch bowling during a century stand was good news at least for the cheerleaders on the boundary edge who greeted every four with frenzied dancing.

There were though no cheerleaders in front of the Pavilion, although whether this was on medical or aesthetic grounds was unclear.