Are we expecting too much?
My column - by Adam Harris
March 25, 2007
I have this fear that when it is all over after Cricket World Cup, some people are going to be very angry. They would feel used, cheated. Some are going to end up in debt. I have taken this pessimistic view because of what I have witnessed in the other countries in this region that have been playing host to the event.
The games come to Guyana this week and on Friday, the Sports Minister was literally begging people to buy tickets. With the exception of the game featuring West Indies on April 1, there seems to be a lot of space in the National Stadium. We, the Guyanese have not been buying tickets as expected, but from the television pictures this has been the same throughout the region.
In our case, the exchange rate may have been a limiting factor. Over the years we have been paying little or nothing when compared to the other countries, for our tickets to cricket. I doubt whether we ever had to pay more than $4,000 to see any one-day game. That translates into US$20.
Today, to see any of the World Cp matches, we are being asked to pay as much as US$100 or $20,700. To be on the mound, close to the party stand, where the price is US$90 or just over $18,000 but where the drinks are supposed to be free, we must pay US$25 or $5,000. That is the cheapest rate.
We are facing reality. Our money means nothing, and if we have to live in the real world then the cost to certain events could be astronomical for most of us.
The price to enter the ground represents five day's pay for someone working for the minimum wage; and these are the people who flock the cricket ground under normal circumstances but these are not normal circumstances. Unless they get a raise from some overseas-based relatives they would have to be contented with following the game on television.
But then again, being Guyanese, we like to be where the action is so we would not be satisfied with simply sitting at home and watching television. And in any case, the fun is always greater when we are at the games. We meet friends and even people we do not know; we shoot the breeze (in this country the slang is much more apt) and at the end of the day we have a ball. We saw a great shot; we saw nonsense, and we saw a game that we would tell our children and grandchildren about.
The cost may keep away some of us and the much vaunted security measures will not help. But then again we would break our neck to see good games. It is our luck that we are going to see powerhouses South Africa and Sri Lanka take on Ireland in what are bound to be one-sided encounters.
Ireland got lucky and beat Pakistan ; they are not going to beat anyone else. And to crown it all, they are to play three matches in Guyana . I am not going to see a lop-sided contest, and there are going to be many others like me. It matters not that South Africa will play two matches here. Those matches would be nothing to shout about.
I regret Pakistan got knocked out, although the less the opposition the better for West Indies . But for the sake of the World Cup in Guyana , Pakistan playing anyone would have made for some exciting cricket.
It is not by accident that we would almost fill the ground when West Indies plays. If the ICC did not mess with the designations of the teams then West Indies would have played three matches here. Traditionally, designations such as A1, B1, C1 and D1 would have been assigned to the team winning groups A, B, C and D.
By some strange machination the ICC decided that D1, which should have gone to West Indies for winning Group D, went to Pakistan . Pakistan has gone home and they should have therefore taken D1 with them. But no. The ICC decided to readjust the ranking, making a mockery of the entire tournament.
I have been forced to conclude that the ICC decided that none of the minnows would have gone past the preliminary stage so they went ahead and made the schedule. It was akin to gambling, something that the very ICC abhors. But it gambled and lost. I want an explanation but I know that I would get none.
So we come back to those who invested heavily for the World Cup. The Irish are bound to come and for that we are grateful. There are not too many South Africans here so we can expect little or nothing from that quarter. It is the same with Bangladesh .
I assume that when the people in the region learnt that the World Cup was coming, everyone assumed that it would have been like those other countries. We never considered that in the first instance those countries had many more people than we do. Bangladesh has millions as do Ireland and just about every other cricket playing nation.
The end result is that those people alone could fill the stadiums but we have to depend on outsiders. Under normal conditions, a few hundred tourists would come for the sun and sand. Less people actually follow cricket.
In Guyana , the word is that about 30,000 people would come. I can't see that because in the first instance the number of aircraft that would have to land here to bring that number of people would have to be enormous and the region just does not have that many.
There are no cruise ships and the first game is about to begin. We spoke of tent cities but we never got down to that because we must have come to the realization that they would not be necessary.
Just what will we get out of the World Cup?
Some money from the few who would visit, and massive entertainment for the hordes of Guyanese partygoers. It is going to be a heck of a time for Guyanese and the money is going to come from them especially since the games begin at about month end.
Some Guyanese from overseas have come but I am willing to bet that they would be more content to party with relatives and friends than at the cricket matches which they would see on television.
The numerous hotels that have sprung up may start a new culture. Older people who cannot enjoy the night clubs would probably expect some nice atmosphere from them.
Of course, Guyana would get a lot of exposure by virtue of the television coverage and we hope that we take the opportunity to really market the country.
We have started on a limited scale but I am still to see one advertisement about Guyana on television during the previous matches. But then again, it must be too costly for us so perhaps we would wait until the Super Eight matches in Guyana .
Yet the most obvious thing is our inability to have advertising signs at the stadium. I see Red Stripe but I do not see Banks; I do not see a single advertisement about any hotel and I do not see any about the natural beauty of the country. Barbados is pushing Kadooment and the finals are still some distance away.
Yet we still expect thousands. I hope that I am wrong.