Saturday found me at Lal Bahadur Stadium (the now defunct “Official” Cricket Stadium of Hyderabad that played host to the recently concluded ICL, the IPL predecessor). I had planned to watch the ICL “Live in the stadium”, but the plan never realized… Now I was at the venue of the tournament, the stadium seemed to be recuperating after the tournament. Every place I turned my eyes to, there were debris – the stands where every four and six was cheered by dancing girls were being dismantled. The commentary box, third umpire’s box, and the studio from where pre and post match analysis is done were intact, and it was quite an experience seeing them. The commentary box had two long tables with many white paper strips proclaiming the type of feed (sky-cam et al) that the TV that would have been there would be displaying. The view from the commentary box of the ground was fantastic and on a match night it would have been spectacular, day-by-day I am growing more envious of the commentators’ brigade. What surprised me though was the size of the three rooms, only the commentary box was what could be termed as large, rest two were just average sized. Off the commentary box, I pried of a piece of paper that had the timing slots for the commentators, earlier I used to think that the commentators divide the job based on number of overs (generally every 7th over the commentator is changed in ODIs) – now I know the distribution is time based.
Well these things had their charm, but for me the clincher was wandering around the ground and checking out the pitch. Utkarsh had earlier mentioned that a ground does not seem as big as it is seen on the TV, even I had had the same experience when I had visited Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore – the grounds seem much smaller in real life. And I was drooling at the prospect of playing on the lush green grass, in college we used to dive around while fielding even when the only trace of grass on the cricket ground was below the trees which was the pavilion for all our matches 🙂 As for the pitch, I was actually very surprised. During cricket telecast, you can see the pitch as a stretch of brown surrounded by green. Here the pitch was a speck of brown and green inter-mingled. It had been just 3 days that the ICL final was played here, and already the pitch was being taken over by the grass. I am no expert on pitches; I had no idea whether that pitch would turn, whether it would aid swing, or whether it was a belter. I know just that it was much softer then what I had expected, it had a sort of spongy feeling to it – bowling a bouncer whizzing by the nose would have been very tough on this pitch. This is why the Indian pitches are conducive to batting, without bothering about getting your rib cage shattered; you can play your shots. I’d love to play on that pitch, although not facing the bowlers who would generally bowl there 🙂 On the whole I felt the picture presented by the television is afar from truth. A cricket stadium is much more different from what is seen on the idiot box.
For the religious minded – this is where The-God hit his highest score 😀