Former Hyderabad Ranji captain M. V. Sridhar has every reason to look back at the recently-concluded World T20 cricket championship. For, as Tournament Director he was directly responsible for the nitty-gritty in making the event a successful one.
In an exclusive interview with Sportstar on his return home, Sridhar, an MBBS graduate, recalled that the biggest challenge for him was the logistics of involving 26 teams and 58 matches over 30 days.
“It was mind-boggling to think about it at the start. But a lot of planning went into it. Local Organising Committees were set up with the Secretaries of the concerned State Cricket Associations hosting the games as convenors, well in advance. The two core teams from our side were always on the job to ensure that nothing went amiss,” he said.
“Yes, it took four weeks of drawing board planning, debating and detailing every aspect on the organisational front with specific eye on the budget too,” Sridhar said.
“Just imagine that there were 6000 room bookings right across the centres hosting these matches. This was a simple example of the logistics involved. Then, there were the key areas of security, travel, ensuring that the play facilities were in place. And all this was possible only because of the support from the respective State Cricket Associations,” said the former cricketer, who is also the General Manager (Operations) of the BCCI.
“Yes, I take pride from the fact that the outside world was not aware of the war room kind of atmosphere behind the scenes in terms of planning,” he said.
“Yes, shifting of the high-profile India-Pakistan match from Dharamsala to Kolkata did mean a lot of pain. The whole idea was to let the cricketing world know about the venue. This is a global event. And, now I can say there are millions of fans across the world who are aware of a centre like Dharamsala which was otherwise popular only for the great Dalai Lama,” he said. “It was the most challenging phase of the World Cup. But I must thank the CAB headed by Sourav Ganguly for coming forward to host the match. A lot of planning, again went into it as there were so many key subjects to be taken care of including the all-important security factor,” Sridhar added.
“Sad that Pakistan was uncomfortable with the idea of playing at Dharamsala. I was engaged in talks with the Pakistan delegation about hosting the match. Unfortunately, the local Government was not forthcoming, giving ambiguous statements on support,” Sridhar pointed out.
“At the end of it all, we are glad to ensure that the damage was bare minimum because of the shifting. This was again possible because of Sourav and Mr. Abhishek Dalmiya who put their heart and soul to ensure that the match was a big success,” Sridhar said.
“It was a multi-million dollar event involving high stakes, prestige and much more. And I take pride in ensuring that the event was a huge success by saving at least 30 per cent of the budget allocated. This again thanks to the BCCI for extending all the cost benefits to ICC,” said Sridhar (the budget earmarked for organising the World Cup was about Rs. 300 crore).
Drawing a comparison to the 2011 World Cup held in the sub-continent, Sridhar insisted that then it was only 29 matches in India. “This time we had the women’s teams also playing simultaneously. The fact that there was not a single complaint or a dissenting voice about the conduct of the event was a tribute to the great team effort we put in. We had 10 different heads to handle each key subject like venue management, travel, hospitality, security. All of us were on the job 24x7 with each of us getting an update on what was happening,” he said.
“The biggest reason for the success of this World Cup is that we ensured that communication channels were always open. Every member in the team knew what was being done and what their roles and responsibilities were,” said Sridhar. He was happy that he was given complete freedom by the BCCI top brass. “I must thank them for this or else it would not have been possible,” he said.
Significantly, except twice — once each to Dharamsala and Nagpur — no chartered flights were hired and all the teams and officials were flown around on commercial flights to ensure that it ended up cheaper. “This by itself is a gigantic task,” he said with a big smile.
“Most importantly, we ensured that this World Cup was spectator friendly. We took a lot of care to see that the fans went back home contended by ensuring maximum basic amenities like drinking water and eatables at reasonable prices,” Sridhar said.
“And you must remember that there were no lathi-charges on fans for tickets at the venues, thanks to online booking. This is a major achievement for us,” he said.
At the end of it all, Sridhar is visibly happy at having successfully finished what he calls a daunting task in conducting such a sporting event. “This is a huge learning curve for me and I am glad that I lived up to the expectations,” he concluded before joining his family members.