The South Asian nations hosting the 2011 cricket World Cup promised on Monday to hold a spectator-friendly tournament with affordable ticket prices.
The pledge by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh comes after the 2007 edition held in the Caribbean was widely criticised for failing to draw crowds and being too long.
“We promise a spectator and media-friendly World Cup in four years time,” said Sharad Pawar, chairman of the 2011 World Cup Organising Committee, after its meeting in this northern Pakistan hill resort on Monday.
“We will make unrelenting efforts to make the event a spectacular-friendly one so that more and more people come and watch the best cricket,” said Pawar, who is also the president of the BCCI.
High-priced tickets ranging from $25 to $75 hit attendance levels in the 2007 World Cup. Spectators were also barred from bringing in musical instruments until protests forced the organisers to relent. Pawar said he did not want to comment on whether there were lessons to be learnt from the Caribbean event, “but surely it’s a pertinent issue and will be discussed at the ICC (International Cricket Council) meeting later this month.”
“We assure that prices of the tickets will be affordable to the local paying capacity,” said Pawar.
He said the committee was looking at issuing common visas for India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, following a pattern established by Caribbean nations in this year’s competition.
“The possibility of a common visa will also be explored through talks with the governments of these countries,” said Pawar.
The organisers said they would also think about changing the format of the competition, after the 2007 World Cup came under fire for being a marathon 47 days long.
“The format for the World Cup 2011 needs to be re-examined and will be discussed with the ICC,” Pakistan Cricket Board chairman and committee member Nasim Ashraf said.
Ashraf added that the committee would ask the ICC for grants to develop cricket grounds in all four countries, “like they gave to the Caribbean countries,” said Ashraf.
The meeting also chose Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore as the headquarters of the World Cup 2011.
The next organising committee meeting will be held in India in November-December this year.