IPL 2018: Cricket, Chennai and controversies

The game of cricket in the city has often been at the receiving end of several disturbances, reiterating the fact that sports can be a soft target.

In 2012, the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium ran into a controversy with the state government over three stands with a seating capacity of 12,000.   -  THE HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

The bond between Chennai and cricket is well documented. From staging Test matches during Pongal season, akin to Boxing day Test matches, to giving a standing ovation to the visiting Pakistan cricket team after it beat India in a Test, the fans have embraced the game in an admirable style. However, a game of cricket in the city has also been at the receiving end of several disturbances, reiterating the fact that sports can be a soft target.

And in the end, it was fans who were robbed of a good game of cricket.

Stand issue

In 2012, the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium ran into a controversy with the state government over three stands with a seating capacity of 12,000.

The Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) had to address issues in demolishing about 12 metres of the gym at the Madras Cricket Club (MCC) to create eight meters of setback space between the MCC and the ‘K’ stand as ordered by the court.

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It has proved to be a difficult task as some parts of the MCC have been declared heritage structures by Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority making it impossible to destroy any portion of the club. Among other issues, the TNCA and MCC also feel that the sum for the renewal of lease, demanded by the revenue department, is astronomical.

While the stands were temporarily opened in 2012 for the IPL knockouts and in 2013 for the India-Australia Test, it was sealed soon after and the negotiations are still on.

No Sri Lankans at Chepauk

In the same year, when India was going through a rough patch with Sri Lanka on the political front, the Sri Lankan cricketers were banned from playing in the city. Big names and potential match winners such as Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians), Mahela Jayawardene (Delhi Daredevils), Muttiah Muralidharan and Tillekaratne Dilshan (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Kumar Sangakkara (Sunrisers Hyderabad) couldn’t take the field in Chennai.


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The closure of three stands also led to the World T20 in 2016 moving out from Chennai as the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the broadcasters were determined to have a full house for all World Cup matches. The empty stands in the stadium, according to the broadcaster, would have offered a ‘terrible viewing experience’. Chennai was left to content with non-televised women matches and fans bore the brunt of these decisions.

Ban stain

In 2015, Chennai Super King (CSK) was also wiped off the Indian Premier League (IPL) scene for two years when the team’s key official was caught in a betting scandal.

Now the return of CSK to the IPL fold has also met with disturbances.

The central government’s delay in constituting the Cauvery Management Board has led to widespread protests in Chennai and several political parties have expressed their desire to ban the IPL matches in the city in an aim to send a strong message to the central government.

While the Chennai City Police has deployed about 4,000 policemen in the vicinity of the stadium to prevent any untoward incident, many fans took to social media to voice out their opinions.

Mixed reactions

Noted cricket enthusiast and actor Mohan Raman took to Twitter and said, “An appeal to all Cricket lovers @CskIPLTeam. There are bound to be anti IPL people in the crowd who will try to disrupt play... PLEASE DO NOT GET PROVOKED. Just inform the authorities /Cops and stay out of any violent reaction. Be cool like MSD. Pray for Cauvery water.”

On the flip side, noted television commentator Sumanth Raman said, “I will not be attending any #IPL matches this season & will not participate in any IPL related shows on TV until #CauveryMangementBoard or equivalent is formed. There r some things in life bigger than a game & I believe that this is a time to stand with our farmers.”

But one would still hope cricket to crawl back to the stadium, to compensate for the two-year lull.