Just when you think you’ve seen/heard it all, you see/hear some more, courtesy the always reliable BCCI.
Here’s the news du jour:
The Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) has decided not to allow spectators inside the Rajiv International Cricket Stadium for the Duleep Trophy final between South Zone and West Zone. It is understood that the HCA was fearing crowd trouble due to the political situation in Andhra Pradesh.
There was a security lapse on January 21 during a Twenty20 match at the venue, when a crowd walked up to the pitch, uprooted the stumps and staged a sit-in halfway to the pavilion before they were cleared by policemen. The match had to be cancelled eventually.
“The gates have been closed due to security reasons, we wanted the match to go on uninterrupted,” Shivlal Yadav, the HCA vice president, told Cricinfo. “There aren’t many spectators who come to domestic matches anyway, if you observe last year’s Ranji final, barely 500 spectators turned up. We did not want to take chances pertaining to the conduct of the match. The BCCI does not give us any instructions with regards to such matters. It is up to the hosting board.”
The news is appalling at so many levels you lose count. Firstly, you have a former player/selector and current official casually dismissing the final of a premier domestic competition as not being worth the spectators’ time. Does it occur to him — and to the larger group of honchos who run cricket in this country — that the fault lies not with the players, but with the administrators like himself? That spectators do not come because you do not (a) provide good conditions for competitive cricket; (b) provide the sort of facilities that will help spectators enjoy the game, not the kind that makes watching a day’s cricket a physical torture; (c) proselytize these contests in order to build interest levels?
Yadav and his ilk forget that less than a month ago, spectators thronged through the gates, while more of their number lined up outside, for the Ranji final between Karnataka and Mumbai.
At another level, where was the imperative in hosting the Duleep final in Hyderabad? If you knew ahead of time that there were security implications, surely it would have been a simple matter to shift the venue — especially given there is no dearth of cricket venues in this country?
It is startling just how callous the attitude of the BCCI and its affiliates is towards the spectator. The other day, the Eden Gardens announced that for the second time running, it would not be selling tickets for an international event.