First, there is the ‘tradition’ of selling match tickets physically in this post-modern era when the country is marching forward with digital technology in all sectors.
BCB sell tickets to the people who are more than crazy about cricket by making them queue up in line, fenced in by bamboo, instead of using technology. As there was no alternative, I stood in a long queue despite the fear of coronavirus.
After a while, I realised most of the people waiting in the long line were not cricket fans at all. They were ticket racketeers who crowded the line to make some money. Anyone visiting Sher-e-Bangla national cricket stadium before the match starts can see this easily.
I was directed to enter the stadium via using Gate 1, which was packed with long queues. I thought there were long lines as the spectators entered the stadium showing their vaccination cards and scanning their tickets at the entrance. But that was not so. I was surprised and annoyed it was taking so long because the stadium entrance was only partly open for the spectators to squeeze through, causing them to suffer in the long lines.
The behaviour of the security guards at the entrance was too rude for words. It seemed to me that they were doing us a favour by letting us into the stadium. Finally, I entered, but there is no let-up in the adversities in the gallery.
As the BCB sold tickets keeping 50 per cent of the lower gallery seats vacant due to the coronavirus pandemic, the pressure of spectators doubled in the upper gallery which is why it was difficult to find an empty seat to sit. Besides, the seats in the gallery were covered in dust as the authorities didn’t pay any heed to this. Perhaps BCB thought since the sports lovers were coming to the stadium after so long, they could clean the seats themselves. .
The majority of the spectators who came to the stadium buying tickets for Tk 300 had to watch the match either standing in the gallery or sitting on the stairs as the seats were broken and unsuitable to sit on.
Apart from this, the condition of washrooms in the stadium is despicable. And the food sold in the gallery is unhygienic foods but costly. A bottle of water was being sold at three times higher prices than normal.
We finally watched despite the mental torture, sadly returning home as our beloved Bangladesh lost the match. While coming out of the stadium, I lamented thinking that spectators have a huge contribution in taking the BCB’s Fixed Deposit Receipt (FDR) up to Tk 9 billion. Alas! The rights of these spectators are largely ignored.
It seems to me, going to watch a match in Mirpur is a crime. Even then, maybe out of love for cricket, I will go to that dusty gallery to support the Bangladesh team. We, the spectators, are the lifeline of cricket!
This article, appeared in Prothom Alo online, has been rewritten in English by NH Sajjad.