The end was a pity; what followed was comic. The Indian and Australian cricketers were spirited away to the safety of their hotel before umpires called off the third and final T20I. The organisers, scared of the wrath of 30,000 spectators who would have felt short-changed that there was no match despite absence of rain, held a closed-door presentation of trophy to skippers Virat Kohli and David Warner.
Most international matches are insured against “act of God”. But was the washout of the Hyderabad T20 match really that? Of course the city was drenched with rain for a couple of weeks prior to match day. However on the fateful day there was absolutely no rain and it was only because of the poor quality of drainage that the outfield was left soggy and hence unfit for play.
The Hyderabad Cricket Association, responsible for upkeep of stadium and conduct of the match, would certainly have suffered a massive loss. The entire ticket money from the 30,000 spectators, probably running to Rupees three or four crores (depending on ticket pricing) would have to be refunded.
This apart, security, housekeeping, volunteers, generators hiring, food, water, hotel accommodation, transport, printing and scores of other expenses would have to be met irrespective of whether there was a match played or abandoned.
It is not just the cricket association that would have taken a big hit. Others involved with paying for television crew, satellite time, transportation of men and material, sponsors, Board, corporates, various vendors, etc would also be affected by the abandoned match.
The question that would thus need to be asked is, could the situation have been averted, particularly as there was no rain on the day of the match?
It is here that the CoA could be a little proactive and come to the rescue of Indian cricket.
While Pune and of late the many-times-bitten Chennai have better drainage system, it is the KSCA system that is a modern marvel. The CoA would do well to take the next flight out to Bengaluru to have a firsthand look at the finest drainage system in the cricketing world.
The SubAir system that KSCA has installed at its main stadium in Bengaluru is a tribute to its erstwhile office-bearer’s foresight. The American system installed in some great golf course greens of the world and a few other stadia comes at some cost. But its efficiency has to be seen to be believed. It sucks water at 36 times the speed of gravity and gets a ground ready for play as soon as rain stops.
In fact KSCA is so confident of its efficiency that they leave the outfield uncovered when it rains. Last year they had a demonstration for media and later for the Indian cricket team wherein they dumped tanker-loads of water on the outfield. It was sucked out in seconds.
A cursory look at the limited-overs internationals in India over the past 10 years show that major stadia, in Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi not to forget Goa, Vishakapatnam, Kochi, Cuttack, Hyderabad have all been affected by rain. The loss would have run into hundreds of crores of rupees.
It is therefore imperative that these associations follow KSCA’s lead as soon as possible. The CoA must release infrastructure funds and insist that major staging associations have similar systems in place. Alternately, only associations that have ideal facilities must be permitted to host money-spinning international matches.
It is not just the SubAir drainage system that sets KSCA apart from other associations. The STP (Sewage Treatment Plant) ensures that the association is flush with more than 2 million litres of water a day even in the worst summer and this is adequate to water its ground and the adjoining NCA facility. This comes in very handy during IPL when drought and other issues haunt other associations. This ought to be made mandatory, as indeed the solar panels on the stadium roof which generates electricity for the community right through the year.
Indeed the game has become so commercially massive that it is important that every measure be taken to protect, nurture and promote it.
Hyderabad Cricket Association built their new, big stadium recently. But the fact that they have done so little about the ground shows that not too much thought has gone into it.
Perhaps the financial blow caused by the abandonment of this match could be the catalyst for state association, television company, sponsors, vendors, etc to goad BCCI and COA to promote best practises, release funds and upgrade infrastructure.
Else Indian cricket would continue to drown in a sea of mismanagement every time it rains.