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India vs Australia: ‘We had booked flight tickets, hotel stay’, say irate Indian fans after BCCI’s untimely change of venue for 3rd test match

Updated on: 15 February,2023 05:43 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Nascimento Pinto | nascimento.pinto@mid-day.com

Two days after the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced a change in the venue for the third test between India and Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, fans aren’t happy. They have not only lost money after having already booked travel and stay, but haven’t received an apology for the inconvenience caused to them

India vs Australia: ‘We had booked flight tickets, hotel stay’, say irate Indian fans after BCCI’s untimely change of venue for 3rd test match

India fans are unhappy about the recent change of venue by the BCCI because they have already booked their flight tickets, hotel stay and have even taken leave from their office to attend it. Image for representational purpose only. Photo Courtesy: AFP


The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on February 13 announced that they would be changing the venue of the third test between India and Australia from Dharamshala’s Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium to Indore’s Holkar Stadium. The official reason states, “Owing to harsh winter conditions in the region, the outfield lacks sufficient grass density and will need some time to develop fully”. Now, if you have been seeing various social media platforms since then, you will see in fan groups that Indian cricket fans aren’t happy and in fact angry at the change in schedule. It is simply because the money they have spent has now gone to waste due to poor planning of the schedule from the country’s cricket governing body of the test series which started on February 9, and will conclude on March 13 as the team plays four test matches between them.   
 
The test series, more famously called Border-Gavaskar Trophy, as it named after cricket legends Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar, is played between the two countries since 1996. With such a rich history, the recent development is even worse for fans because they had started planning as soon as the various venues for the series were announced in December. The four matches were originally supposed to be played in Nagpur, Delhi, Dharamshala and Ahmedabad. However, with the first test done and dusted, fans complain that the change in the schedule, which came out two days ago on February 13, has come very late, and should have ideally happened much before the series started. The match is scheduled to take place from March 1 to March 5. 






 The change of location has burned a hole in the pockets of many who have been fans for over 15 years and have attempted to never miss a game but may have to with this one. “There is no apology to the fans who are the biggest stakeholders in the game, no accountability on why the Dharamshala game was allocated if there was even a 1 per cent chance that the outfield may not be ready in time for the game,” expresses Pune-based Kaustubh Barve, who has been watching India’s matches at the stadium for the last 15 years.  
 
Mid-day Online spoke to some of the fans to understand how they feel about the change. Here are some of their reactions after the announcement:  
 
Vipul Yadav, 38, senior brand manager, Mumbai 
I have been watching India’s matches since 2009. I have not missed an India test or ODI in Mumbai since then. BCCI doesn’t care about fans and that is an open secret. For example, if you have booked tickets for the Lord's test match, it is already sold out. Globally, everything happens way in advance. Fans also get their Boxing Day tickets way in advance. Cricket has become the sport where India plays all its matches on a Sunday including all world events including T20 events, that are played at primetime. As an Indian, who loves cricket, I find this disturbing because I want my team to win but I don’t want the tournament to be designed so that it reaches far as possible and they should be good enough to win on merit. Even in the World T20 World Cup in 2016 that India hosted, they left ticketing so late that the match was on March 12, the lucky draw started towards the end of February and the results were announced on March 5 and you could use only Indian numbers. So, all the Indian fans in Australia called the Swamy Army couldn’t even come to India because you required an Indian number to put in the details. That is how bad it is for fans. The facilities are also bad in the stadiums. I have spent around 80-odd days in the stadiums and the only time I can say that it was good was in when I went for the T20 in Indore, where the stadium was clean because the city prides itself on that.  
 
I am part of the group with the ‘Bits and Pieces’ podcast and at least 13-14 people decided to go to Dharamshala. It was the perfect vacation because you can watch cricket, it has the mountains and is ideal for a sports fan. Imagine from that, you say you can’t host it. There is a friend who is come from Dubai, there is another person who is coming from Portugal. The BCCI’s official release doesn’t also carry an apology and that goes to show how fans are treated in India.   
 
Kaustubh Barve, 31, credit analyst, Pune 
Planning began as soon as the fixtures were announced three months before the test series. Test cricket is a dying format of sport worldwide and only some countries like Australia, England and India have managed to retain the public interest in the format. For countries like England and Australia, the test matches take place at four or five fixed venues and the fixtures are announced well in advance so that the fans can plan their travel/stay/leave accordingly. Here in India, we have no clarity on the expected venues/fixtures announcement, ticket sales and everything is down to pure luck and good fortune. 

In spite of this, I have been to all the test matches in Mumbai since 2009, though the fan experience in the stadium has been far from ideal, the cricket played in the middle has by far made up for these hardships. For some mysterious reason and the incomprehensible rotation policy of BCCI, Mumbai has not hosted an India vs Australia test match since 2004. With this in mind, we were hoping for a game this time in Mumbai and waited for the announcement of the fixtures. The December 8 press release from BCCI confirmed the venues as Nagpur, Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad. 

We immediately discussed and decided to attend the Dharamshhala test match, despite the other three venues being near to Mumbai than Dharamshala for the sheer experience of watching a high-profile test game at the scenic HPCA stadium in the backdrop of the snow-clad Himalayas. In three days, we had our flights and hotels booked and leave dates managed from our offices. As there is no direct flight to Dharamsala, we had to book two connecting red-eye flights with a six-hour layover at Delhi costing approximately 18,000.  Even though most of the test matches in India get over inside 3-4 days on spin friendly wickets, we had to book the hotel for five days with the possibility that the match will last till Day 5. After so much of advance planning and booking, we find out that the venue has been changed to Indore.  
 
Even if Mohali was chosen as the alternate venue, there would be minimum cancellations as it is only a five-hour drive from Delhi/Dharamshala. Fans who had made plans for Dharamshala (included multiple Australian fans and NRIs visiting only for this match) could have easily attended the game at Mohali with minimum alternation to itinerary, but sadly that was wishful thinking. As there were less than 15 days left for the game the free cancellation window for hotel had lapsed and we had to pay hefty cancellation charges, and are still following up for a refund. For the flights only 40% amount could be salvaged. 

Apart from this, being tragic test cricket fans, we had to book another round of flights and hotels for Indore, as this would be a last chance for us to see this Indian team consisting of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja playing together against Australia in a test match. Apart from this, it is most likely that this will be the final test series in India for veterans David Warner, Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon and possibly Mitchelle Starc too. So, missing the rescheduled game was never an option, even though we were taken for granted by the BCCI. So now we wait anxiously for any news on ticket sales with only 13 days left before day 1 of the third test match, with a lesson learnt that planning well in advance for watching an international game of cricket in India is a futile task, resulting only in loss of mental peace & money and in disappointment of what could have been. 
 
Abhishek Nair, 30, product manager, Bengaluru 
I have been a huge cricket fan and have been watching the matches at the stadium for the last 15 years so I feel pretty bad that the venue for the test match between India and Australia has been moved from Dharamshala to Indore at such short notice. Since December, I had planned to attend the match with the flight tickets, hotel stay, leave from work - all of which was in place. All of that is now up in smokes. Very disappointing is an understatement. The replacement venue also isn't close enough to accommodate any changes. If it had been, at least my flight tickets could have been used. But with it moving to Indore, no chance of using any of my existing tickets. I will need to book everything afresh and that too with the game happening in less than two weeks from now. I will most likely miss the test now because it will become too expensive if I try booking everything all over again.

Also Read: We’re confident of bouncing back in Delhi and levelling the series: Alex Carey

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