The World Cup schedule was announced in June after a delay and earlier this month, as many as nine games were rescheduled by host BCCI and the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Now, another change is on the cards with the Hyderabad state unit wanting a one-day gap between games scheduled on October 9 and 10, potentially putting fans in more uncertainty.
When India co-hosted the 50-over showpiece in 2011, the BCCI was not the financial behemoth that it has now become. However, the sale of tickets began in June 2010, giving the fans enough time to plan their travel around the country.
In the previous edition held in England in 2019, the schedule was announced more than 12 months in advance and fans got enough time to try their luck with the tickets.
India is the driver of the global game and its team is easily the most followed on the planet. The loyal fans are largely responsible for taking the game to new heights but their needs clearly have not been prioritised, especially those who wish to travel from within and outside India. Delhi-based Atirav Kapur was quick to book his flight for the most awaited game of the tournament when it was announced in June that India and Pakistan will play in Ahmedabad on October 15. However, the game has been advanced by a day and he will not know until September 3 if he is one of the lucky ones to get a match ticket. “I have already paid Rs 40,000 for the Delhi-Ahmedabad return flight and even if I manage to get the ticket, I will need to reach a day in advance to get a physical copy of it. Considering the prices have already skyrocketed, rescheduling the flight will cost me a lot of money,” said Kapur.
“I can only take a call on that if I know I am going to get a match ticket. It is a total mess. I recall the 2011 edition, the tickets were available months in advance. Match tickets are most important if one has to plan travel for games.
“Anywhere in the world the demand for tickets is always greater than number of tickets. Whether it is a lottery system or any other method, it has to be done months in advance.
“In India we are facing such a challenge. What about the people who want to come from England or Australia. How do you plan with no tickets and on top of that the schedule keeps changing?” asked Kapur, struggling to hide his frustration.
The accommodation cost for the blockbuster clash in Ahmedabad dwarf the airfares with rooms costing as much as 50,000 a night. The more passionate fans have resorted to booking hospital beds instead.
The situation is much worse for fans who are based outside India. Rishabh Singhvi, who lives in Singapore, has spent close to Rs five lakh on flights and hotels as he plans to watch three to four India games from the stands.
With no guarantee of getting match tickets, he is keeping his fingers crossed.
“I have been planning this for four to five months, but since ticket sales have not yet started, I don’t know what will happen. I have already done my flights and hotels for all the games barring Kolkata where my family is based,” said Singhvi.
“I plan to watch the Dharamsala game with my parents and brother and for that we have booked our flights to Amritsar. All of this puts me in a really complicated situation. The tickets should have been put on sale at least four-five months in advance.
“The people who are organising don’t seem to have an idea. The whole thing is targeted towards people who have contacts (and get tickets easily). It is a total mess,” he added.
A BCCI affiliated state unit official, whose association is among the 10 hosts of World Cup games, said tournament schedule and sale of tickets should have been handled better.
“We are three-four months late when it comes to schedule and tickets, but I am sure eventually, we will have a successful World Cup. Having said that, it would be much better if we gave fans at least six months to plan,” said the official.
Another official of a state unit that is staging World Cup matches said one should not compare timelines of the 2019 and the upcoming edition.
“Announcing one year before is too much in advance. It should be done four to six months before.
“The complexities we have in India compared to other countries, we need so many clearances from multiple authorities. Having said that, surely fans should be given more time so that they can plan well. It is a lesson for the future,” said the official.
Despite the mess surrounding the schedule and ticket sales, the World Cup is expected to be a roaring success. The 50-over format faces an uncertain future but trust the fans to pack all the 10 venues.
Kapur is not only a passionate fan of cricket but also has a sound knowledge of the game.
“We are talking about this organisation mess right now, but when World Cup begins, stadiums will be full, life will go on, and nobody will care.
“Honestly, the situation won’t change as long as the fans keep coming. The day fans stop coming to stadiums, may be the authorities will start caring.”
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