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Saturday, March 31, 2007

An Empty Feeling

The most worrying facet of this World Cup has been the empty stadiums. Even for matches involving the home country, a full house has been a far cry. As I write this, England plays Ireland in a ground, more empty than full. With the sub-continental powerhouses already packed and gone, and now West Indies on the way out, there is a very real danger of the emptiness increasing. It won’t be a pretty sight for Cricket, were the semi-finals and final to be played in less than fully filled-up stadiums. Remember NKP Salve? If the story is to be believed, the denial of an extra pass for the 1983 final, to the then BCCI President is what firmed up his resolve to work towards shifting the base of Cricket from England to India. The rest, as you know, is history.

That in just 24 years, things should have come to such a pass – I don’t think even the P.A of the Dutch Cricket Board’s secretary will be denied an extra admit for the final this year, were he to bother asking for one. For all the hungama about the globalization of cricket, this is indeed a sad state of affairs.

If the ICC President were to be quizzed on this, his only likely defense would be – “That was England, this is the West Indies. There is a difference.” There is a difference indeed, but in circa 2007, at least the more important of the Cricket World Cup matches should see a full house, shouldn’t they? The second and probably more valid argument would be based on the pricing of the tickets. The ticket prices start from no less than 25$, which may be on the higher side for the local fans, and the pricing has been devised by the local organizing committees and not the ICC. But it’s called the ICC World Cup, ain’t it?

When the shop floors churn out defective products which somehow manage to reach the retail floors, the CEO of a company doesn’t blame the foreman or the distribution manager – he accepts it as his failure. That’s what the second of the 2 C’s in ICC all about. The word “committee” means - a person or group of persons elected or appointed to perform some service or function, as to investigate, report on, or act upon a particular matter. That particular matter, in general, is Cricket, and in particular, right now, is the World Cup. This Committee has been an abject failure on both counts – this one is just a new addition to their long list of failures.
As a fan, the empty seats hurt. When you are awake at 3 in the night watching a West-Indies match, you can't help wondering if there are not even 10,000 West Indians interested in following the fortunes of thier team. This has rankled Lara himself, who has been left wondering where the fans are. If it's the price thingey, someone needs to look into it, and soon.

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