Cricket's uncertainty may cost us
March 26, 2007
On Friday, Indian cricket fans began offloading tickets they had bought for Cricket World Cup. Some of them had paid as much US$300 although the price of the tickets as stipulated by the International Cricket Council ranged from US$25 to US$100.
This has had to happen once a top team from a country in which the people sleep, eat and breathe cricket, gets knocked out of the tournament. India, through Pepsi, has poured millions of dollars into Cricket World Cup. Certainly Pepsi India knew the benefits and stood to reap huge sums.
In the first instance, while India played the Pepsi advertisements would have reached nearly one billion people in India alone. It would have been the same in Pakistan. The sales would have been astronomical and Pepsi would have gained a lot.
This is not to be because both India and Pakistan are out of the tournament. That fact alone has led to many organizations and companies accruing huge losses. In other countries where there are large concentrations of Indians, the plans to accommodate these people led to the investment of huge sums.
There were plans for large screen television sets, party venues to accommodate the celebrations after the matches and heaven knows what else. One could imagine the imports from India to facilitate the taste buds of the numerous fans.
Guyana will also be a victim of the Indian fallout. Traditionally, India enjoyed immense support in this country dating back to as long as one could remember. Guyanese of Indian ancestry naturally tended to support the boys from the Motherland and had India qualified, undoubtedly huge numbers from the Diaspora would have descended on this country.
Perhaps many of them did buy tickets in advance. They would have had to apply for leave in advance so the question of them foregoing the visit to Guyana may not arise although some of them may also join in the ticket sell off and opt to spend the period of leave in other ways.
Our authorities exhorted us to improve our homes so that they could have become bread and breakfast facilities. Some went to the banks while others depended on their relatives overseas for the funding. When last we heard, a few of them had accepted bookings and by weekend the numbers had grown.
Yet the numbers are nowhere near the numbers that would have come had the Indians progressed beyond the preliminary stage of the competition. Six teams would be coming this way and all of them have some following but these people are not as many, judging from the video images that came our way during the matches in which the teams played.
The benefit, though, from our investments for Cricket World Cup is that we would be in a position to host large events in the future. We should be in a position to market our country as a tourist destination. After all, we have some 400 rooms available.
But how could things go so wrong? Someone once said that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties but no one expected the game to be so uncertain for two of the better teams in the world. And these two teams have been replaced by the so-called minnows, Bangladesh and Ireland.
We have heard that more Irishmen and women are coming this way but the question is whether they would actually come to Guyana.
We have gone to great lengths to train volunteers and we would be deploying these through the streets of the capital. The major hotels were expected to be ready. The administration told us that Guyana's largest hotel would be home to the teams, the media, the sponsors and the officials.
Up to last night this was surely not the case for the teams because Le Meridien Pegasus reported that it had bookings for six teams, the exact number of teams that would be in Guyana for the Super Eight matches.
Have we gone too far? We think not, but things certainly have not gone according to plan and someone must provide answers. We are a poor country and we cannot afford wasted investment.
Perhaps the ICC would subsidise the government, given the huge sums it will make from the games, but some ordinary people are going to sustain losses.