On the Front Foot: Ticket fiasco and then Boycott's fish sarnies are taken – this World Cup stinks

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The Independent Online

Barely a week in and the 10th World Cup has all the makings of being a good old-fashioned shambles.

Not only was the crowd queueing for tickets attacked by over-zealous cops in Bangalore but also Geoffrey Boycott's fish sandwiches were confiscated on their way into the ground in Delhi. Such have been the organisational failings that Haroon Lorgat, the ICC's chief executive, felt impelled to call a briefing yesterday to discuss them.

Lorgat conceded that there had been shortcomings but concluded that it demonstrated the 50-over format of the game was alive and kicking. Since England's last experience of hosting the World Cup in 1999 was a mess from start to finish, it would not do to adopt a censorious attitude in this quarter. But the difficulties are obvious.

First is the one inherent in having a tournament spread across three countries. Secondly the arrangements in India have been left not to the Indian Board of Control but to the individual associations. The division of the ticket supply for the match in Bangalore was an eye-opener. Nobody seemed quite certain how many were available but it was somewhere between 35,000 and 39,000. Of these, 6,000 went to the ICC, 8,000 to Indian cricket associations, 2,000 to Board members, 8,000 to local associations, 1,270 (precisely) to sponsors and anywhere between 7,000 and 12,000 to Joe Public.

Hence the scenes of chaos outside the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday when police controlled the crowds by hitting them with bamboo sticks. Whoever organised it, the buck stopped with the ICC because it is their World Cup.

As an ICC official pointed out, however, it will hardly be a topic of discussion in Chennai next week because India are not playing.

Grounds for concern in Kolkata

Conspiracy theories are growing about the decision to move the match between England and India from Kolkata to Bangalore. The suggestion is that Kolkata was unfairly treated and that Mumbai, its traditional cricketing arch-enemy, has been accorded unfair favours.

While the ICC were adamant that the Kolkata ground would not have been ready in time for today's Group B match, Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, scene of the final, is by no means certain to be impeccable. The concerns surround not so much the stands as the pitch.

Recently revamped, the Wankhede will not have a match played on it until 13 March, when New Zealand play Canada. There are grave fears about the standard of the pitch simply because it is untried.

Kolkata supporters claim one law for them and one for the people across the country.

Hit single hit for six

Infamously, the World Cup song for the 1999 tournament, written and performed by Dave Stewart and having nothing to do with cricket, was not released until the hosts England had been eliminated.

Released in plenty of time, the Sri Lanka World Cup anthem for this year's tournament has been banned. President Mahinda Rajapaksa intervened because the lyrics of the song, written by local star Lahiru Perera, were rather too aggressive, talking about destroying rival countries. Apparently, it was meant to be light-hearted. Not in this PC world.

Beeb boobs again

Television coverage of cricket in Holland is said to be limited to about 10 minutes a year. The World Cup may change that.

The same goes for England, of course, where the BBC (television arm) virtually ignore the sport for most of the time to concentrate on vitally important sporting activities such as Formula One. But suddenly a giant has awoken.

Cricket is actually getting a daily highlights programme on the BBC in this World Cup. Reasonably adequate so far, it is merely cupboard love. Squeezed by rugby and (naturally) football this weekend, highlights of the match between England and India, the biggest of the early rounds, are on just before midnight.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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