A representative image of the Box Office outside the PCA Stadium in Mohali. (AFP)
A badly let-down fan appeals to the TNCA after being left stranded, along with thousands of others, outside the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
To, The President, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, Chennai
Subject: Let-down at Chepauk
Please bear with me.
Yes, I know we have witnessed a great cricket match. That we are all rightly celebrating all over the land. But please listen to this cricket fan's stand.
I am an ordinary cricket fan, but have suffered extraordinary and needless pain, thanks to the omissions and commissions of the TNCA.
Due to the commercialisation of the game, the callousness, utter neglect and indifference of the TNCA/BCCI towards cricket followers, our mental agony is easily described.
Let me tell you how:
On day two of the Chennai Test, I went early to the stadium and stood in the serpentine queue for two hours, to buy the daily tickets. Within ten minutes of the counters opening, the tickets were sold out. The thousands of cricket fans waiting patiently in lines were left stranded. There was no communication from the TNCA officials as to why there were no more tickets for sale.
Back home, on TV, Sachin was batting fluently. Also on TV, we could see rows of empty stands, vacant chairs glaring in the sun - and that's the rub.
After lunch, we went again to the ground, to try our luck. Upon inquiry with the gate officials, I was told that the bulk of the tickets (complimentary?) are given to the sponsors. I argued with the gate officials to let me in and speak to any TNCA office-bearer as to why there are no tickets for deserving fans, when so many seats are empty. Along with me, there were several die-hard cricket lovers who were desperate to get in. To add to our agony, we could hear cries of 'Sachin! Sachin!' from the stands.
Please understand my complaint.
If the tickets are sold out and the stadium is full, that's tough luck, and we can understand that. But, if the tickets are blocked for whatever reasons, and empty stands prevail, won't the genuine cricket fan be deprived of his rights? Won't he/she have a right to feel aggrieved?
This is not a one-off incident but happens all the time at cricket venues all across India, and I write this on behalf of all cricket lovers. I understand that one must 'market' the game, to run it profitably. However, selling the game down the river Cooum harms not only the fans but the players as well.
Test cricket needs good crowds. The players always like to play to a full house.
How can you have empty stands greeting a batsmen on reaching his hundred? Or a bowler with a five-for? How can you have 'sponsors', 'clubs', 'others' taking away the booty? How can you deny Test cricket entry to passionate cricket lovers? How can you have beamers bowled at fans?
How can you solve a problem like this? Please do let me know.
In the euphoria of the great Chepauk win, do not forget the neglected cricket fan.
Mina Anand (Indian cricket fan)
PS: On day three, I got up at 4 a.m., to line up again for a ticket. Our luck was in! But what about those left out?