Two of the most anticipated test matches but with such contrasts


Sachin Tendulkar – a brand or a fine cricketer

By Gaurav Joshi reporting from India

They are the two most anticipated Test Matches in the recent history but with such contrasting values. So far they are distant from each other that it seems only the cricketing conventions bring them together.  India vs West Indies Test series has been scheduled to farewell a champion, a commodity which will only happen in India. On the contrary, the first Ashes Test is a continuation of cricket rivalry that dates back over 100 years.

Both Test matches will be played in front of record crowds, the interest and the hype is parallel but for diverse reasons. While the crowd at the GABBA, Brisbane eagerly awaits the contest between both teams in Mumbai it is all about an individual.  The GABBA will be packed for all five days cheering on the home team. In Mumbai, the duration of Tendulkar’s innings will dictate the crowd numbers.  Objective of an Australian fan in Brisbane is to witness an Australian win, a fan in Mumbai will still be satisfied with a Tendulkar century or even a half century even if it comes at the cost of the nation losing the Test.

Not only are the motives dissimilar the administrators and governance in Australia have always ensured fans are given priority over VIP’s.  The ticketing saga only three days out from the Test match probably sums up the chaos in Mumbai.  Firstly, only 10% of the tickets in Mumbai are available to general public. Secondly, they are sold on third party website that cannot handle the huge burden of traffic (20 million requests) and there are simply no alternatives.  To put it in perspective the ticket for the Brisbane Test match were sold through event ticketing company almost three months before the Test match.

Secondly only 5000 tickets were available to the public in a ground which has a capacity of 32,000, the rest are distributed through affliated clubs.  So, for an average fan has to pray for a miracle or closely know someone associated with one of the 350 clubs and hope they can purchase a ticket from them. The most passionate of the fans will rarely get a chance to witness their hero.

In the meantime more than 30,000 tickets are available to the public for the GABBA Test match.

Not doubting the passion of Australian cricket supporters but when it comes to fan following, India is miles ahead despite such mismanagement.  It will be sad to witness the spectacle in Mumbai without the ardent fans.

Apart from the ticketing saga, the talking point of Ashes Test match has been around cricket itself. Selection, tactics, strategies and the build up and make front page stories in the media. Past cricketing greats have expressed their opinions and game of cricket has been used to promote cricketing events.

In India, the news has tended to focus on the celebrities as well but by the ones who will attend the match and the farewell is planned in advance for Tendulkar by various politicians in India.  The Mumbai Test match has been promoted by sponsors, advertisements and companies seeking financial benefits forgetting the game of cricket and using Tendulkar as a brand rather than a cherished cricketer.

Unquestionably the two Test matches will provide spectacles that will be relished by the cricketing public of the world.  One will be all about national hero and the other a truly sporting war played in front of genuine spectators.  At the end of the day the only person to be able to survive in both worlds is Tendulkar himself and deep down the little master will always want the cricket to be a winner, not only in India but also in the land down under.


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