New Delhi: When the much-delayed sales of tickets for the non-Indian matches in the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup began on August 24 (for Mastercard users), and August 25, for the general public, at 8 pm, it didn’t make for a pleasant experience for many cricket fans eager to see the best of 50-over cricket at home in October-November.
Add to their woes, BookMyShow, the official ticketing platform for the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup, had crashed initially when the tickets were put up for sale at 8 pm after the previous timing of 6 pm.
Sanika Sawant, a Mumbai-based cricket fan, was trying to buy tickets for the England-South Africa match on October 21 in Wankhede Stadium, but didn’t succeed.
“I logged in around 7:45 pm as the sale of tickets was to start from 8 pm. But till 8:30 pm, it was showing “coming soon”. After that, the sale started and I was able to get in. But they only showed tickets for the Sunil Gavaskar stand and when I tried to book, there were no seats available. I refreshed the page and it showed ‘sold out’,” she told IANS.
Sanika added many members she knew from the North Stand Gang, a group of cricket fans in Mumbai and regular attendees of matches at Wankhede Stadium, faced the same issue as her. She feels a lack of clarity in the number of tickets on sale as well as of which stands were being made available was the reason.
“I believe from the whole gang, only four or five people got the tickets for that game. There were many interested in watching this game and were keen to book tickets. Many people whom I spoke to said tickets weren’t open for the North Stand, only Sunil Gavaskar and Divecha stands were open that time.”
“I think I will be seeing this World Cup matches from home -– firstly due to the uncertainty over booking tickets and secondly, prices are very high. INR 1,000-2,000 tickets are for the Sunil Gavaskar stand, which is a side view stand. I mostly prefer to have a straight view, like from North stand or Sachin Tendulkar stand,” she added.
Vipul Yadav, a widely travelled sports fan, was trying to book tickets for three non-India matches in Mumbai, but couldn’t get a single one.
“I was online on the website from 7:45pm on Friday evening and at 8 pm, tickets came. From there till 11:30 pm, it was all tamasha.”
“I am not someone who’s restricted to watching only India games; I want to watch World Cup matches. If I get a World Cup semifinal ticket, it will be amazing. But this experience has been something which I can’t say in words,” he said to IANS.
As an MBA student in 2011, Vipul had tickets for the Men’s ODI World Cup quarterfinal between India and Australia in Ahmedabad, held on March 24, by June 1, 2010. He would go on to have tickets for the final between India and Sri Lanka at Wankhede Stadium via a lucky draw process.
This time, he is aghast to see not a single ticket released for the North Stand when he tried to book one in Mumbai, apart from its exorbitant pricing.
“At North Stand, where all regulars sit for the matches, only level 2 was open, priced at INR 10,000 for the South Africa-Bangladesh clash. Afterwards for the Australia-Afghanistan game, only a block was open in Level 1.”
“Generally, all regulars sit at level 3 as it gives a straight view and all the atmosphere is there too. It’s the biggest stand and not even one ticket was released. Right now, I have very little interest in buying tickets, because you can’t make it so difficult for fans. It feels like an obstacle course and fans are asked to get past it to reach stadiums for watching matches.”
Just like Sanika, Vipul also expressed concern over only side view tickets being put up for sale. “For the New Zealand-South Africa game in Pune, there are no straight view tickets available, due to which people have bought side view tickets. Ideally, straight-view tickets should be put on sale first and I can’t understand for whom they are being saved. Ideally, if I were to see a neutral match, I wouldn’t like to see it from the side view.”
Vinesh Prabhu, a passionate cricket fan based in Mumbai, had to refresh constantly for 30 minutes after tickets were put on sale to secure his INR 2,000 tickets for the Australia-England match in Ahmedabad on November 4.
But to his surprise, he saw that INR 1,000 tickets were available later, which wasn’t the case when he was striving to buy tickets. Vinesh hopes to buy tickets for the India-Pakistan, and India-Sri Lanka games, as well as semifinals and final, but wants more transparency in the process.
“When I got through the app, only 2000-3000 rupees tickets were available. I saw the cheaper option which fit the budget too and booked one ticket for 2000 rupees immediately. My second priority was to book England-South Africa tickets at Wankhede, and I tried booking one ticket worth 2,500 rupees at an upper stand.”
“But as soon as I clicked it, it was sold out. I later checked in to see the demand for tickets for games in Ahmedabad and saw that for the England-Australia game, 1,000 rupees tickets were available too, which wasn’t seen initially.”
“When one has to book tickets in a very quick time, you go for it. But on seeing that, I felt like I could have saved 1,000 rupees if I had known this earlier and hadn’t missed out on buying an England-South Africa match ticket too,” he said.
From August 29 till September 3, the sale of tickets for India matches will happen online. Vipul hopes the issues which he and many fans faced during the ticketing process for the non-India games in the last few days, have to be solved, for the betterment of people wishing to watch matches in the stadium.
“If I log in for tickets at 8 p.m., I should be done with it by 8:15 p.m. It shouldn’t be like you are sitting in front of it for three hours and calling various people to know what’s happening. It’s not worth the amount of hassle and before the BookMyShow site crashes, I should at least be able to see the stands for buying tickets.”
“Also, what are you trying to prove by selling side-view tickets only? Many like me know how it feels to watch matches in a stadium. But if a first-time fan comes to see these games from a side view, how it would feel to him/her and they may even question coming to a stadium to watch a live match?”
“I will be going to Paris to watch the Olympics, which is happening in July-August next year. I got the tickets for it in February-March this year. This is the way to treat a global event like a global event.”
“You get to host a World Cup once in 12 years and things like these shouldn’t be happening. Watching a World Cup match in a stadium can be someone’s memory for a lifetime and people here get very little chance to experience that.”
Sanika, too, agrees with it. “There will be lots of issues when India match tickets will be put on sale. Plus, there wasn’t much clarity on whether ticket selling process would be done phase-wise. I did see accounts of similar experiences on Twitter (now X) and in coming days, more such instances will come out.”