IMAGINE you are a die-hard Non-Resident Indian who is all geared up for the ICC World Cup 2023, back in the home country. Then you find that the schedule has been announced and immediately go online, looking for tickets, airline and hotel bookings.
You won’t find the first of the lot, since they are yet to be up for sale. The second and third, sure, but at a premium. But that really does not matter to our NRI. Cricket must be watched, at any cost. Not least the only match that matters, India versus Pakistan, in Ahmedabad, on October 15! So, you make all your flight bookings, block hotel rooms (even hospital beds, it seems) and wait with bated breath for the tickets to be up for sale.
Then, they suddenly realise that the India-Pak match may not be played on October 15 at all! Just a minor fact of Navratri beginning on that day and which Indian doesn’t know how big it is in Gujarat.
Then the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) unleashes the real bombshell. There will be changes in the dates and times of several matches, because as many as three International Cricket Council (ICC) full members have issues about the current schedule.
We still don’t know if those members include Pakistan.
So, all the NRI friend’s plans – flight dates, hotel bookings, domestic travel plans – go up in smoke within the span of one BCCI briefing. Now he will be left scampering to revise all plans, but that too will have to wait till the new schedule is released.
The biggest equity-holder in cricket in India – the paying fan – has the last say, if any, in the goings-on of the board, or the ICC.
With just over two months left for the World Cup to begin (as per the original schedule), fans still don’t know when the matches he wants to watch will be played. As a double delight, he will also have to run to marked centres to pick up hard copies of match tickets, since e-tickets are not available.
BCCI secretary Jay Shah states that 7-8 centres will be opened “well in advance” for redemption of physical tickets, which will have to be retained by the spectators for the tournament.
So much for digitisation.
So not just will our NRI friend have to change all his plans, he will also have to queue up at one of these centres “well in advance” to redeem his ticket. That should be fun.
As a return for all these trials, the fan will be welcomed with enhanced facilities at the hosting stadia – stuff like hygiene, clean toilets, and free drinking water. They should be eternally grateful. After all, these things, taken as a given in most stadia for most sports worldwide, are not so in India.
Batting order mystery
Speaking of reordering, it was very interesting to see the Indian batting order during the first One-Day International (ODI) against the West Indies at Bridgetown, Barbados.
All the talk about Sanju Samson getting a look-in went up in smoke as Ishan Kishan came in to open India’s inning along with Shubman Gill, followed by Suryakumar Yadav (wearing Sanju Samson’s shirt) at No, 3, Hardik Pandya at 4, Ravindra Jadeja at 5 and then Shardul Thakur.
No sign of Virat Kohli (who wasn’t even padded up) and Rohit Sharma only came sauntering in when India lost their fifth wicket, that of Thakur.
Quite interesting, this whole exercise. Team India seems to be testing the waters, so to speak, in real earnest. Even the shirt sizes seems to be up for changes. Ask Samson and SKY.
Quite an engaging beginning to the World Cup preparations, off and on the field. Normally, such events are fixed, sold and sorted by this time, but this is cricket, after all, and that too in India.
Anything is possible. So, keep watching this space.