Cronyism plays cricket too

Cronyism plays cricket too

At the height of the Commonwealth Games scandal, when just before the event everything that looked like it could go wrong did, at least some people found succour in history. It was not as if India was incapable of conducting an event of this scale. Didn’t Delhi hold the 1982 Asian Games handsomely? In fact some of the stadiums built for that event were being reused for the CWG 18 years later.

Amid all the finger pointing and collective national fuming, at least a few people wondered why our institutional memories were so poor. Were there no agencies, systems or managers involved in the 1982 Games who could help us in 2010? Didn’t we write anything down in 1982?

But now it appears that our institutional memory fails to last for 18 months, leave alone 18 years. The 2011 Cricket World Cup is reincarnating the same demons from Delhi last year.

Once again, stadiums were found to be unready. Eden Gardens was first dropped from schedule, before being given a few low-profile matches out of pity. Wankhede Stadium, arguably the jewel in the crown of the cricket establishment, only managed to get complete safety clearance, after a comprehensive renovation, once the tournament had begun.

And in the last few days, we’ve come to learn that the entire ticketing system has broken down as well. Only a handful of tickets have gone on sale at most venues—the lion’s share having been doled out to state associations. Subsequently the vending website crashed. On Tuesday, Bangalore police had to resort to a “mild lathicharge" to manage unruly crowds when ticket counters opened at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium.

This is humiliating to the fans who unilaterally prop up this sport internationally. It also portrays India as a nation that cannot or will not learn from past mistakes. So far the BCCI’s only response has been to release another 1,000 tickets for the final match, their equivalent of compensation for the next of kin after the train has fallen off the bridge.

Fans wanting tickets are left scrambling for “contacts" who can make “arrangements". From spectrum to cricket tickets, the nation seems to have a consistent sales strategy.

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