Sunday, 6 March 2016
It was just over 12 months ago that The Bharat Army, India's famous band of merry supporters who travel the world supporting Team India, returned from the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Within a week of their return planning had already started for the next big tour abroad - ICC T20 World Cup at home in India.
With the experience and emotion of the 2011 World Cup still very much a fresh in most Indian Cricket fans minds, this was a dream tournament to see the T20 World Cup on home soil for the first time and another opportunity to see Mahendra Singh Dhoni lift a World Cup trophy at home!
It's fair to say the latest edition of the T20 World Cup in India has already had its fair few challenges even before a ball has been bowled. Unlike the marquee tournament 12 months ago in Australia-New Zealand that delivered on its promise of offering fans the ultimate cricketing experience, this skinny latest T20 version in India would do well to learn from those who put on a fantastic show down under.
With less than a week to go before the tournament starts The Bharat Army are still waiting for confirmation on tickets for India's Group games - this despite already committing to a cost of circa GBP 250,000 on booking flights, hotels and transfers for its 120 members travelling to India.
Following Team India around the world for over 15 years, travelling to every major ICC event, The Bharat Army have almost become the team's 12th man on the pitch, so can we really envisage a tournament without the famous Bharat Army supporting the boys in blue in the stands?
The reality is, 120 hardcore members of this loyal band of supporters might well end up watching their beloved Team India in a hotel bar rather than in the stadium.
Unfortunately the current administration have failed to live up to their peers at Cricket Australia who went out of their way to create the ultimate fan experience - from fan zones outside and inside the stadiums to group bookings and catering for fans from around the world, we find ourselves having to take a ticket in the lottery in the hope of a win limited to two tickets per applicant, with still the added uncertainty if the money spent on hotels and flights to the marquee game (India vs Pakistan) in the tournament in Dharamshala will even be utilised.
So the question is where are all these tickets going? What percentage of tickets are really getting into the hands of true cricket loving fans that invest time, effort and money following their team around the world rather than those who invest time and effort in making money out of the sport we love?
Over time administrators should be improving how they manage these tournaments - if they took a step forward in 2011 they have taken a huge leap backwards in 2016.
As a fan of cricket, how you judge your enjoyment of a tournament is based on the experience you have - well let's just say after 15 years attending ICC events, this tournament has a lot to be desired and the tournament hasn't even started yet!
Hope to see you in the stadiums!
Bharat Army Founder
Bharat Army Founder