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Mechanics of a cricket tour

A cricket tour is viewed differently by different people. Some think it is a battle between two countries (therefore muqabla, badla, ran bhoomi, takkar or whatever else). Others focus on individual clashes, for instance the prospect of a bout between the batting skills of Sachin and the lightning pace of some Pakistani speedsters.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2004 01:51 IST

A cricket tour is viewed differently by different people. Some think it is a battle between two countries (therefore muqabla, badla, ran bhoomi, takkar or whatever else). Others focus on individual clashes, for instance the prospect of a bout between the batting skills of Sachin and the lightning pace of some Pakistani speedsters.

As the Indian team packs its bags, people on either side of the LOC can't wait for cricket hostilities to commence. Already, the temperature is soaring and cricket coverage is nearing saturation point, much before the opening bowlers mark their run-ups in Karachi's National Stadium.

Just look at what all is happening.

Kids can't study for their boards/college exams because they are distracted. Sponsors have started their promotion campaigns, newspapers are devoting extra pages to cricket digging up all trivia about Pakistan cricket, and TV channels are promising special coverage.

Reports suggest satta rates are at an unprecedented level, the money exceeding the Rs 10,000 crores, snapped up in 11 minutes, on the ONGC issue.

There are other examples of booming economic activity -- fans are travelling to Lahore in large numbers, as a result all hotels are sold out and taxi drivers there are rejoicing, waiting for visitors to arrive.

What all this means is: Cricket is huge, really huge. India's tour to Pakistan goes beyond cricket because it involves the country, it affects elections, it affects movie releases, plays havoc with box-office collections.

When Sachin and Shahrukh compete for attention, India's eyeballs favour the cricket megastar.

While a cricket tour has such sweeping ramifications, it consists of several small things as well -- the nuts and bolts which, though essential, normally go unnoticed.

Most matters of this kind are included in a MOU signed by the two cricket Boards, the document lists how the tour is played out. The clauses cover playing conditions, the timings, make of ball to be used, practice schedules, net bowlers and stuff like that. In addition there are details about laundry arrangements, ticket allocation, medical facilities, daily meal allowance.

The list is pretty long, it includes the number of treadmills needed in the gym, even the size of the ice tub used by players for recovering after a tough day in the field.

The mechanics of a tour are no different from a carefully planned military manoeuvre -- the checklist is long and exhaustive. India's tour to Pakistan is set to break new ground.

For us it is significant from many angles, many of which are non-cricketing in nature. Equally so for Pakistan who have not experienced such hype and halla earlier.

All this is fine, but the question which everyone (experts, fans, satta operators) are asking remains unanswered -- jitega kaun?

First Published: Mar 10, 2004 01:51 IST