Friday, November 26, 2010

A Day At The Test Match

Hello, I want to take a break from the letter "train" and would like to give you all a peek into what a cricket fan goes through to make it to a cricket match in India.

Getting the tickets

Our day started at 6 AM in the morning with feverish anxiety and excitement of the possibility of seeing the Great Trinity of Indian Batting star in "whites". The twist in the tale is that we had no tickets but compensated it with a lot of hope :)

We reached an eSeva counter much before the usual 8 AM opening of the counter. We were however greeted by a large crowd who were like us and also a notice that said that the counter would open at 9 AM when the first ball of the match gets bowled at 9:30 AM ! So, how would all of us get tickets and then joust back to the stadium was anyone's guess.

We almost gave up on our hopes till we saw a "shady" character with some tickets - we struck a deal of paying double for the regular ticket. Now, we had the TICKETS that made us thrilled and all excited.

Entrance to the stadium

We made our way along with a decent crowd to the stadium gates - the distance we had to walk from the main road was about 1.5 KM.  We made it to the gates when we saw the funny labels of  " No Mobile Phones, No Laptops, No Water Bottles , No Cameras, No Binoculars" ! Imagine living in an era when we instantly communicate all the time, we are asked not to carry cell phones for a time of about 8 hours ! Also the clincher is Binoculars - wonder what the people in charge believe it can be used for ??? We carried  nothing except "loads" of money ( will tell you later why you need them once inside ).

Inside the stands

The feeling of being in a stadium is indeed surreal and it made us feel that all the trouble is indeed worthwhile. The lush green outfield,  "proximity" to action ( from about 80 m ;-) ) and the whole atmosphere of a sports arena..simply superb.

Uppal Stadium in Hyderabad - One of the best in the business
Once inside, we had almost the worst possible event...Sachin getting out on the first ball of the day ! There was a run out appeal that was referred and Sachin just about made it to live for another 2 overs. Then came Laxman, the local hero to massive public applause and treated us with his delicate wristy shots and fabulous cover drives. All this time, Dravid reminded all of us why he is "The Wall" , he blocked his way to a crowd depressing 46.

In between all this, the Sun came out really strong and we in the stands had no protection or shade to get under. It was a blazing hot day and we had a real challenge in sitting in the sun the whole day ! The apathy shown by the Cricket Administrators is really pathetic and I can surely testify to it ! With the hot sun, the vendors who sold soft drinks had a field day...A Frooti costing 12 Rs suddenly went up to 30 Rs and there were still a lot of takers including us ! The lunch was an apology for a Biryani - but costed a 100 Rs ! Post the lunch, we got more use of the money we carried, more "cool" drinks and with the same high prices.

Spectators - uncovered but dutiful to the game they love!

The sad part of the stadium is that it lacks basic sanitation and rest rooms for a crowd of 20,000 who sit in normal stands ! BCCI certainly does not think too highly of it's largest revenue base...i.e the FANS who still believe in the game...The day is not too far when the board might have to start treating us better and bring us back to the game's most enthralling test matches.

Bhajji makes fun

Well, all was not bad, Harbhajan Singh did treat the local fans to his batting that was full of interesting shots and made us feel value for money !  There was a brief interruption due to the rain when it perhaps only rained in the stadium in the city ! We walked out at that time and later realized that after the rain, Bhajji played even better and did go on to make his second century in a row.

Bhajji - the batting hero !
A day at the test match made us feel good and made us wonder that it could be much better if only people who matter can think of the actual people who matter !

- Pavan

1 comment:

  1. Hi Pavan,

    reading your article has brought back lot of memories. couple of decades ago for every pongal there use to be a test match played in chennai. my uncles used to plan for it few months in advance and we all use to go to chennai to watch those matches with my cousins. Though we had tickets for all the five days we still had to get up early and be there at the gates by 5 in the morning. it was like five days of fun. Thanks for bringing back those wonderful memories.

    Srinivas G