With the ICC World Cup barely 50 days away, Prof Ratnakar Shetty, the tournament director, is one of the most sought after men in the game. Shetty, who is also the Indian cricket board's chief administrative officer, assured in an exclusive interview with the HT that there will not be any repeat of the Commonwealth Games, where labourers frantically worked to get facilities ready at the eleventh hour.
With 50 days to go for the World Cup, would it be fair to say the last phase of preparations have begun?
Certainly. The last phase before the World Cup starts now and we are just closing in on all the left requirements.
Are all the 13 venues for the tournament ready?
No. Actually work was still going on at two stadiums in India - Wankhede Stadium and Eden Gardens -when the ICC team recently visited. A final venue visit for these two venues has been planned sometime in January. Also, the three venues in Sri Lanka are yet to be ready.
Will the Eden and Wankhede be fully equipped to stage matches by January 15?
I don't think there should be any problem post January 15. The Wankhede Stadium should be match-ready by January 15. Even the floodlights are being tested regularly now. At the Eden Gardens, there is no concern about the playing field as such. The reconstruction work of a couple of stands was incomplete during inspection and the facilities of the main building also needed some finishing touches. They would have got almost a month after the ICC visit.
Just like Commonwealth Games, will we see the labourers working at venues even at the eleventh hour?
Not at all. In India, all other stadiums are ready. Even in Chennai, when it staged the last ODI (against New Zealand in December), only one part of the stand was to be completed.
Will the World Cup restore India's ability to host big sporting events?
India's capacity to host big sporting events was never in doubt. I still feel that too much was made out of the Commonwealth Games. No doubt stadium work was behind schedule. But they turned out be some of the best facilities made available.
Considering the controversies with PILCOM (the India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka joint world cup organising committee in 1996), are there any specific precautions being taken this time around?
During 1996, the event was allotted to India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and they had to raise their own money and spend out of that pool. Since 2001, the whole scenario has changed. World Cup is an ICC property.