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Hot weather, hot prices affect World T20

Published: 
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Sport View
International Cricket Council pitch consultant Andy Atkinson, l, talks with an ICC official at Feroz Shah Kotla cricket ground in New Delhi. The city’s historic ground will come under intense scrutiny when it hosts a high-profile World Cup match between South Africa and the West Indies after the stadium was banned in December 2009.

The ongoing ICC World T20 in India has failed to attract the crowds that normally comes out to cricket and those who have ventured through the turnstiles have not seen the kind of entertainment that comes with T20 cricket.

For starters some of the pitches have been so poor that the ICC has had to make an intervention in order to bring it up to a standard that is acceptable. 

Pitch consultant Andy Atkinson had to be flown into the City of Nagpur, to tend to the pitch that the West Indies and South Africa were to play on. 

The ground staff at Nagpur was not happy with the fact that Atkinson came in and immediately moved the game to another pitch. This caused some friction at the Jamtha but in the end the ‘big man’ had the final say. 

The groundsmen were saying that due to the excessive heat, which ranged around 40 degrees, the pitches were slow and low. They were saying that you can water the pitch how much you want, the heat would have led to a very dry pitch, which would not allow good stroke play.

When the pitch is dry, the spinners get purchase on the tracks and the ball spins generously. The ball does not come onto the bat, as batsmen like and scoring becomes difficult. 

Let’s face it, fans come to cricket to see runs scored not wickets taken. A batsman making a fifty is remembered longer, than a bowler taking five wickets. The story of dry pitches carried across India, with only the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and the Mohali pitch in Chandigarh assisting the batsmen. 

Another let down at this World T20 and it is something that the ICC must look into, is the price of admission. Ticket prices ranged from TT$100 to TT$300 and some of the venues staging matches involving neutral teams, were half filled. The ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), would have better been served selling the tickets at a lower price and packing the stadiums.

No matter who is playing, once the prices are good, the cricket-mad public of India will fill the stands. At the end of the day, more revenue would have come the way of the cricketing authority and cricket would have been played in a great atmosphere. Many fans across India were echoing the same sentiments, that the prices were too hot. 

Apart from the pitches and the ticket prices everything else has run smoothly, in terms of the organising of this tournament. Security has been excellent and the BCCI seemed to have left no stone unturned in providing safety for players, journalists and fans. When you are in the stadium, you feel very safe indeed, so much so that sometimes, you think it is too much.

The Bangladeshi journalists crossing the border would have felt the heavy hand of the security that has been enforced, as they were nearly turned back because they did not provide certain requirements. Once you have been accredited the BCCI and ICC have gone out of their way to make your stay comfortable. The food which is often a source of complain, has been excellent and the hygienic conditions at the cricket grounds are great.

The BCCI and the ICC need to be commended for their efforts but as the great saying goes, there is always room for improvement.

The next World T20 takes place in Australia in 2020 and one hopes to see continued improvement at the world’s marquee tournaments.

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