“That’s the tradition in India,” said Javagal Srinath, secretary of the Karnataka cricket association with all the insouciance from his days as a give-you-nothing seamer for India.
I wasn’t quite sure whether he was referring to the stampede for tickets, the huge interest in the India-England match or the act of police brutality on queuing spectators. Maybe it was all three.
I’ve been to India three times, twice to report on cricket. All three trips have been memorable in many ways, unforgettable experiences of great people, culture, food, sport and plenty more.
India is the home of cricket. That’s an undeniable fact in both spiritual or commercial terms.
But considering it’s the world’s largest democracy I find it really hard to stomach the attitude of authority figures and institutions to the public.
The ICC manages to impose its will on pretty much every area of its ubiquitous tournaments yet ticket distribution for this World Cup has been left in the hands of state associations. The president of ICC is Indian, of course, lest we forget.
First there was the Eden Gardens fiasco. Now there have been court cases about the number of complimentary passes dished out in Delhi and complaints of tickets not distributed to fans who had booked months in advance.
From what I gather, the spectator experience has improved a bit at the IPL but it’s coming from a very low base.
Indian players have been whingeing too about being hassled for interviews from the press. That’s Indian players, some of them global superstars, at their home World Cup complaining about media attention.
Yet whereas England have made a player available to the media every single day during the tournament, India haven’t held a press conference for two days. Amateurish doesn’t even begin to cover it. This is 2011, it’s professional sport. This is how it works.
You’d figure that there’d be ICC diktats about this sort of thing. There probably are but India just do their own thing as they do in most other aspects of the international game’s administration.
Indians deserve better than the arrogant, self-serving politicos who run their game. Whether they will ever receive better is a moot point. As ever, lessons can be learned from Sachin.
John Stern is the editor of The Wisden Cricketer. Follow him on Twitter at WisdenCric_John