Gautam Gambhir (L) and Virender Sehwag (R) run between the wickets as South African cricketer Morne Morkel (C) looks on during the ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup's Super Eight match between India and South Africa at the R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium in Colombo. AFP/Lakruwan Wanniarachch
Twenty20 cricket is not just about fireworks on the field. It is also about a sparkling show off it, like the ones you see go up in the sky when a batsman hits a six or a wicket falls. The magic of pyrotechnics has enhanced the experience of fans at the World T20.
The dazzling show during the night games appears easy to execute but isn’t exactly as simple as lighting a cracker! Lot of planning is done to set it up so that when the game starts, the fireworks can be triggered by remote control.
The men who execute them are, like groundsmen, among the first on the ground and the last to leave. Lee Foggitt from Johannesburg, a member of the South African team who are handling the fireworks, says: “A lot of preparation goes into it, we have to fix boards with cartridges all around the ground. The tough part is carrying the boards to the roof of the main scoreboard, which is seven-storey high, putting the fireworks in the totums and wiring all the lines. Everything is programmed on the computerised radio system, but you have to get the sequences right,” says Foggitt, whose company also did the job in the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa.
And a double header means double the workload. And when you are playing with fire, the most important issue is to eliminate risk.
“For fireworks fired inside the stadium, we have to make sure it is safe – away from spectators, players, spider cam, wires and flags. You have to ensure no derby falls down,” says Nick Mitri, proprietor of the fireworks company.
The biggest sports shows Mitri’s company has been involved in are the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2000 Sydney Olympics. “At the football World Cup, we had fired four-and-a-half thousand shots in a one minute and 48 second show. It took 20 people to set it up. Here, for each game we are firing 250 shots. In the final, 1,500 shots will be fired.”
Premadasa Stadium will be the place to be on the night of October 7.