Hyderabad: It is thrilling news for Hyderabad cricket lovers that the city has been selected as one of the venues for the T20 World Cup which is to be held in October-November. Big time cricket will return to the Rajiv Gandhi stadium. The cities that would host matches during the T20 WC are Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Dharamsala, Lucknow and Ahmedabad which will play host to the prestigious event.
Former test cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin, President of the Hyderabad Cricket Association, has tweeted: “Great news that Hyderabad will host some of the ICC World T20 games. After much persuasion Hyderabad has been selected as a venue for ICC games for the very first time.”
But the question that now arises is that if an event as big as the ICC T20 World Cup can be held in Hyderabad, why was the city denied the right to hold the IPL matches earlier? The main reason given then was that the Hyderabad Cricket Association was riddled with infighting and corruption and therefore unsuitable to host IPL matches. That decision was announced about two months ago.
But has anything changed since then? The answer to that question is an emphatic no. The HCA continues to be bogged down in disagreements and disputes between the President Mohammed Azharuddin and his office bearers including the Secretary R. Vijayanand, Vice President John Manoj and others. The recent AGM ended in chaos with the rivals being unable to reach an agreement upon the crucial question of appointing an Ombudsman.
Yet, despite all the discord, when it came to allocating the matches of the prestigious ICC T20 World Cup, Hyderabad was chosen as one of the venues. So it is clear now that the IPL matches were denied to Hyderabad due to factors other than those which were then stated. Was there a prejudice against Hyderabad or were there any political pulls and pressures that were behind the decision? It is all open to conjecture now that the World Cup matches will have Hyderabad as one of the host cities.
It may be recalled that even the request of Mr. K T Rama Rao, Working President of the ruling party in Telangana, had been ignored and later Azharuddin had stated that only the BCCI knows why Hyderabad was not found suitable for the IPL. The BCCI’s decision seemed blatantly authoritarian, undemocratic and irrational.
It left Hyderabad cricket fans with a sense of deep disappointment and hurt pride. The city has had a long history of conducting cricket matches in a successful and peaceful manner. As a contrast, we can see the huge number of matches that are lately being allocated to Ahmedabad. Cricket fans not just in Hyderabad but all over the country are clearly unhappy with this lopsided allocation of big matches.
On 24th February, 2021, the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad was renamed as the Narendra Modi stadium in honour of the current Prime Minister and so the matter of match allocation has acquired a new importance. The ground was chosen to host the first ever pink ball Test match between India and England and now it has been chosen to host the final of the T20 World Cup. These are only the latest of a series of important matches that have been given to this centre.
However, social media has come alive with criticism of this aspect of the BCCI’s decision making. “BCCI, why are you conducting only the final of the T20 World Cup in Ahmedabad? Why don’t you conduct the entire tournament in Ahmedabad?” said one fan as a reaction to a report in the media. This comment echoed the sentiments of cricket fans from all over the country, especially Hyderabad.
So there is a dire need for the BCCI to adopt a more transparent method to choose its venues. The body which is in charge of administration of the most popular sport in India should show more consideration for the feelings of fans and sports lovers.
But now that Hyderabad has finally been chosen as a venue for the T20 World Cup, it is imperative that the local organisers should show their ability convincingly. It is the right time that they sink their differences and work together for the good of cricket in the region. Although the HCA will play only a supporting role, no stone should be left unturned to make the event successful and free of any problem. This will be a golden opportunity for Hyderabad to show BCCI what it can do.
Abhijit Sen Gupta is a seasoned journalist who writes on Sports and various other subjects.