India’s 52nd international cricket venue

The new Vajpayee Stadium in Lucknow is a splendid piece of construction. One hopes that it will also be maintained well.

The new Vajpayee stadium in Lucknow is a splendid piece of construction. One hopes that it will also be maintained well.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

India has unveiled its 52nd international cricket venue in Lucknow. The spanking new Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium is magnificent like all the recent stadia that have come up in India. The capacity of 50,000 makes it a large stadium and the day when India played the ICC World T20 champions West Indies, it was packed to the rafters. The raucous crowd went home happy too after seeing India win the match and with it the T20 series. Rohit Sharma’s superb batting was worth going miles to see and after that India’s victory was never seriously in doubt.

Getting to the ground was a bit of a problem though as the traffic was too heavy. Even the teams got stuck and reached the ground barely 45 minutes before the first ball was to be bowled. These are of course teething problems and will no doubt be taken care of before the next big event, but one hopes that care will also be taken to maintain the stadium in spick-and-span conditions even when there is no big ticket event on.

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That is the main problem with the stadia in India. Once a big event is finished, hardly anything is done to clean the stadium till the next event is to take place. This apathy is puzzling to say the least because the owners of the stadium are so understandably proud of what they have built. Then, why are they not too concerned about how the stadium looks once the event is over?

The standout part of the new stadium in Lucknow lay in the well-laid approach roads. There was no danger to the backs or the heads like in Hyderabad where the approach road to the gate that leads to the commentary box is so bumpy. If one has a back condition, then it’s painful to traverse those few hundred metres to the gate. Even the car park is kuccha with so much dust flying as the vehicles move. The Hyderabad police, however, have learnt to regulate the crowd brilliantly by segregating the pedestrian traffic from the vehicular one.

As the game grows in popularity, and more and more stadia come up, hopefully those building them will take into account the larger picture and make the experience of watching a game there one to look forward to.   -  Altaf Qadri/AP

 

If the authorities in other centres can learn from the Hyderabad model, then we won’t have the problem of the teams, officials and TV crew, who need to get to the ground well before the game starts, getting stuck in traffic. Today in India, every second adult male owns a two-wheeler and a smart phone and those two make for an incredible traffic hazard for the team buses and other vehicles.

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Most of the new stadia have big boundaries and this is making the bowlers smile. In the older stadia, the boundaries used to be brought in so much that even mishits were going for sixes. What was seen in Thiruvananthapuram and Lucknow was that some hits which would have gone for sixes elsewhere were being caught on the boundary.

The ICC has done well to pass the message that wherever possible, the grounds should have a big boundary. This will help level the field literally for the bowlers now. Yes, a distance needs to be kept from the metal fencing as the fielders today slide to stop the ball and can well crash into the fence and do serious damage to themselves.

As the game grows in popularity, and more and more stadia come up, hopefully those building them will take into account the larger picture and make the experience of watching a game there one to look forward to.