Houseful: Cricket and Cuttack to have a ball

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  • Published 29.11.11

Cuttack: Spectators are to outdoor sports what plants are to earth. Without them, survival becomes a question.

The subcontinent had never disappointed the stands of the cricket stadium. But of late, spectators to cricket matches in India have been classified as an endangered species. Of course, the Indian Premier League does attract a healthy crowd.

But that’s absolutely unhealthy for purity of the game.

The numbers have deteriorated drastically for the one-dayers. For the Tests, the less said is better.

In such a gloomy atmosphere, the one-day International series opener between India and West Indies, at the Barabati Stadium here comes as a breath of fresh air.

The excitement surrounding Tuesday’s game is at its zenith and the usual ‘madness’ that one associates with cricket in India is very much present in Cuttack. Peeping over the each other’s shoulders to catch a glimpse of the favourite star or a desperate request for a ticket — cricket and craziness are still companions in Cuttack.

The revamped Barabati has a 45,000 capacity and every seat will be occupied on Tuesday. “It will be a full house… Whatever tickets were put up for sale, were sold in three days flat,” Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) treasurer Satya Mohanty said on Monday.

The OCA, in fact, have taken an unique step to heighten the interest and to hand an alternative to those unlucky fans who have failed to get hold of a ticket.

Six giant screens have been put up at different corners of the city to facilitate the fans.

“We have arranged for six giant screens… For those who haven’t got a ticket, they can enjoy the match through the giant screens. We have spent an extra Rs 4 lakh for this purpose… The people of Cuttack love cricket,” Mohanty said.

There’s a lesson in such an initiative for the likes of Cricket Association of Bengal, whose only effort to attract the crowd during the recent India-West Indies Test was limited to inviting some underprivileged children to the ground. That too, the number was a lowly 100 when it could have easily been 500, considering the capacity of Eden Gardens. The result of such ‘laziness’ was evident in the empty stands even with a Sachin Tendulkar in attendance.

With the range of ticket prices being from a down-to-earth Rs 400 to above-middle-class Rs 8,000 (for the corporate boxes), expect a colourful presence of Cuttack at the Barabati on Tuesday.

While most OCA office-bearers’ mobile phones were switched off, one couldn’t really complain. “We are ensuring that the match is a success… Three thousand security personnel will be in charge. We are covering all the grounds,” a busy Mohanty said.

They are ‘filling’ the grounds as well. And that’s admirable given the recent crisis the so-called bigger centres are facing.