The storm called the Indian Premier League hasn’t hit Port Elizabeth as hard as it did Cape Town, which has become the de facto home of the league. While tickets reportedly vanished within two hours in Cape Town for the opening matches, people in Port Elizabeth aren’t showing the same urgency. On Saturday afternoon, only 4,000 of the available 17,000 tickets had been sold for Monday’s game between Bangalore Royal Challengers and Chennai Super Kings.
However, those behind the counters weren’t despairing yet. “It’s pretty normal here. People tend to relax and get their tickets done just hours before the match,” said the person manning ticket sales on Saturday. This ‘relaxed’ attitude of the people is reflected well in the small town where time hardly seems to move. It’s far removed from the hustle and bustle of the cities with its extraordinary calm and quiet, disturbed occasionally by an over-speeding motorbike or car.
Nevertheless, the IPL buzz has spread around. “They have actually advertised it really well. It’s all over the television and radios for sometime now and everyone knows that some big Indian cricket tournament is happening here,” said Jean, who owns a pizza store near St George’s Park.
“All this hype around the IPL and its grand advertising has given a lot of publicity to India here. Perhaps a lot more people are interested in India and IPL now than probably before it was shifted here,” she said.
Quite a few, however, seem to have been hooked to the IPL before it came to South Africa. “I followed the inaugural edition on television and was mighty impressed with this snappy and vibrant format. It brings together the world’s best on one platform and it’s always fun to watch the best in the business,” said Roger Stephen, a local businessman.
For old-timer Andy Bester, who’s a devoted Test cricket fan, it’s a chance to see retired stars like Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and friends in action. “They have been such huge champions and it’s always a pleasure to watch them, irrespective of the format,” he said.
The self-confessed Test devotee, however, sees no conflict in being a fan of T20. “Tests are the best, but T20 has a different space. I believe that many spectators that T20 has brought into the stadiums will gradually graduate into Test followers,” he said.
That may sound a bit farfetched at the moment, but with this format you can never say never.