CRICKET / The tournament will be held from March 16 to April 6
The roads leading to the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium are unfailing reminders that the World T20 — set to be held in Bangladesh between March 16 and April 6 — is upon us. There are billboards, arches, and a countdown-clock outside the Stadium emblazoned with the logo of the mega event.
According to Mahbub Anam, Director, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and member of the local organising committee of the T20 World Cup, the tournament is the biggest in the nation’s history.
“We have upgraded the stadiums and other facilities. Some of the works were delayed because we had a longer monsoon. There were also the elections that slowed things down. By the time the World Cup starts, everything will be in order,” Anam told The Hindu recently.
The end of political turmoil in the country, he said, expedited the process. “We had a meeting where all the countries sent their security representatives to confirm their participation. By the time the Sri Lanka series started, normality was restored in Bangladesh. Cricket unites the whole country.”
Anam assured that the security provided to the teams was of the ‘top-most level.’ “It’s been confirmed by the country’s highest authority.” When asked if the security-cover provided was on a par with that accorded to visiting heads of State, he said: “In most cases, yes.”
A large chunk of the preparation has been geared towards construction of new stadia and sprucing up the infrastructure.
“In 2004, we had the under-19 World Cup for which we built some grounds and in 2011, when we had the 50-over World Cup, we upgraded the venues. But for 2014, we built about eight new grounds. It will immensely improve our country’s cricketing facilities.”
While two new practice grounds have been built in BKSP, Dhaka, a smaller facility has come up inside the Fatullah Stadium. Practice venues have also been readied in Sylhet and Cox’s Bazar. Anam said the works were co-funded by the Bangladesh government and the BCB.
“About $40 million have been spent on the venues alone, the government contributing roughly over $20-30 million.”
The cities hosting the tournament have been given a face-lift as well. “Additional access roads have come up around the Chittagong stadium. The Sylhet Stadium is inside a tea garden, and it’s is one of the most beautiful venues in Bangladesh. The government’s total contribution has been to the tune of $60-70 million.”
Local reports suggest that ticket-pricing for the Asia Cup was on the higher side. Anam, however, clarified that wasn’t the case for the World T20. “Except for four matches, tickets have been sold out completely. They were done 100 per cent online. The ICC wanted greater crowd attendance and so the tickets were priced reasonably — the lowest is 50 BDT, which is less than a dollar, and the highest is 2000 BDT.”
The BCB has also planned a concert featuring A.R. Rahman, Akon, and other local artistes on March 13 at the Bangabandhu Stadium. “There is no such opening ceremony as such. It’s going to cost us over $3 million, but we feel it will give more impetus to the event,” said Anam.