ICC World Cup: Tickets 'sold out' for opener, but where are the crowds?
Cricket's 50-over showpiece opens in Ahmedabad with an England-New Zealand match, and the response is lukewarm at best
The empty stands at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, as the ICC World Cup got underway with an England-New Zealand game on Thursday, 5 October, has raised eyebrows among netizens. It was not a good advertisement for the 50-over white ball game, a format which is already under scrutiny thanks to the T20 invasion.
The cavernous venue, with an accommodation of 100,000-plus, almost resembled the look of a warm-up contest, what with the tournament opening on a weekday with a non-India game. The previous five World Cup events all began with the home teams participating in the curtain-raiser match, with hosts England playing South Africa in the 2019 World Cup opener.
‘’Hi @bookmyshow and @BCCI, whom did you sell the tickets if whole stadium is empty. As per your website, tickets were sold out but then how whole stadium is empty? Result of scam is shambolic start to home World Cup,’’ posted X user Rajiv.
The turnout was so embarrassing for a cricket-crazy country like India that Virender Sehwag, a 2011 World Cup winner, posted on his X handle: ‘’Hopefully after office hours, there should be more people coming in. But for games not featuring Bharat, there should be free tickets for school and college children. With the fading interest in 50-over game, it will definitely help the youngsters get to experience a World Cup game and players get to play in front of a full stadium. #CWC23’’
Compared to 2011 World Cup when the 50-overs game still ruled the roost, the run-up to the event was conspicuous by its absence. The Asia Cup, another multi-nation event, finished too close to the World Cup while most teams and boards were busy hosting the bilateral events, with almost nothing being done to brand this World Cup event and attract home crowds to venues.
Add to this the fact that there was no opening ceremony — which was reportedly called off on the grounds that with the opening match scheduled from 2.00 pm, there was no time for the ceremony to be conducted.
Things are expected to improve when Pakistan, a crowd favourite, take on qualifiers Netherlands in Hyderabad on Friday. Hosts India get down to business against Australia in Chennai on Sunday, 8 October.