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Organisational flaws visible in the T20 World Cup in US; ICC must address them

Surprises add spice in sports competitions and the victory of the USA over Pakistan in the ongoing T20 World Cup gave the local fans plenty to cheer about. However, no one wants unpleasant surprises and the drop-in pitches in the USA are giving some nasty shocks to the teams. The pitches are one of the several glitches that have cropped up and the sooner these problems are eliminated the better it will be for the game.

The pitch on which India played against Ireland at the Nassau county stadium in New York was dubbed shocking and dangerous after several batsmen from both sides sustained injuries. India defeated Ireland comfortably but India’s captain Rohit Sharma retired hurt with a shoulder injury caused by a short ball from Josh Little.

The team management was worried because Rohit’s presence in the team will be vital in the next match against Pakistan. However Rohit issued a statement saying that it was painful but not serious. Rishabh Pant also required treatment after being struck on the arm by a delivery that reared up. Clearly the pitch was difficult to play on.

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But no official complaint

The Indian team management said that it was unhappy with the pitch but would refrain from filing an official complaint so early in the event. In an earlier contest, the Sri Lankans and South Africans had a difficult time too. The drop-in pitches are not up to the mark. The ICC should get experts to sort out this matter as soon as possible.

The American media is very excited about this new sport being played on their soil. News anchors are amazed that this sport is followed by 2.5 billion people across the world. It was amusing to see that one TV channel, Good Morning America, had roped in India’s former cricketer Yuvraj Singh to explain the game to its viewers.

Yuvraj explains cricket

Yuvraj tried his best but cricket being a complicated game cannot be explained in a few minutes to an audience that has never been exposed to it. The ICC needs to put in place a long term plan to educate the uninitiated and draw them towards cricket.

Security at the venues in the USA is extremely tight. After threats from ISIS, the police have deployed snipers and SWAT teams that are ready to swing into action. Kathy Hochul, governor of New York State, has told the local media that all arrangements are water tight. The fans faced rigorous screening and checking.  That affected the broadcasters and commentators too who had difficulties in reaching the venue and entering the ground.

Cops overenthusiastic

The overenthusiasm of the cops was seen during a warm up game when a fan of Rohit Sharma ran onto the ground to greet him.

Such things happen often in India and the offender is usually led out of the ground and sent off with a reprimand. But in this case the man whose name was Ashwin Godker was pursued by two policemen in a style reminiscent of a Hollywood movie. They tackled and threw him to the ground and then handcuffed him.

It was learnt that Godker was then charged with criminal trespass. Clearly the cops in the USA are not as lenient as cops in India. However local rules must be obeyed. As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. So it is for the spectators to remember that they are not watching a cricket match in India.

Ticket prices are exorbitant

But another aspect where the ICC must take a hand has to do with the price of tickets. The West Indies team received very little support from its own fans when it defeated Papua New Guinea in their own stadium in Guyana. The stadium was empty and there were no crowds.

According to the local media, the price of tickets was too high. The prices ranged from $ 22 to $ 45. When converted to Guyana dollars, it came to about 4500 to 9,400 dollars per ticket. That is too high for the average cricket fan in the country. So the ICC must take a relook at the exorbitant prices in the Caribbean islands which the locals cannot afford. In the USA, for the India-Pakistan match, the Diamond class ticket will cost $ 10,000. That means about 8.3 lakh Indian rupees for one ticket.

It is a good idea to spread cricket to far flung regions of the world such as the USA which is a huge market for any sport. But there are bound to be some flaws in the beginning. This is where the ICC must show its administrative skills and its managerial ability. It must safeguard the interests of the fans, make the game accessible and at the same time ensure that the ethos and spirit of cricket remain unharmed and intact.

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