Indian cricket: A game of haves and have-nots

Jim Maxwell (ABC)

India's rapid economic expansion is creating a burgeoning middle class of over 200 million people, leaving most of the country's massive population to cope with what they can get.

So, nothing's changed you say, there's always been a disparity between the haves and have-nots in one of the globe's most populated countries?

From a cricket perspective, the disparity is obvious.

Flanking our ABC broadcasting position in Bangalore and Chennai were a series of corporate boxes, waited on by a retinue of white-gloved staff from a leading hotel.

As the local fat cats and their customers hoed into the usual mix of tea, coffee and a lunch banquet that was straight out of Charmaine Solomon's cookbook, fare that would be hard to find at any top Indian restaurant at home, and fair enough for the 9000 rupees per Test (about $A300), that each ticket was worth, spare a thought for the fans in the outer.

They had meagre facilities, and for the women in particular the toilets were somewhere between disgusting and filthy.

The Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) has a turnover of around $A30 million a year, but apart from being unable, or simply unwilling to improve conditions for the bulk of their fans, who are often herded about like cattle as they queue up through the bambooed races outside the grounds, they have even failed to make sure their own players get all they need for each match.

Why was the Indian team staying at a different location to the Australians in Bangalore? Because their board, run by honoraries and an autocratic Patron in Chief, Jagmohan Dalmiya, forgot to book them in.

And who is looking for 50 rooms in Nagpur for the third Test? The television channel that will cover the match, which probably means a few of those who have booked accommodation in a city that is already struggling because a big medical conference is on, will get moved onto a guest house, or wherever.

Australia's corporate enterprise and its desire to serve the needs of the paying public contrasts markedly with an unaccountable fiefdom, where self-interest and internecine spats between administrators are the main event, and cricket is purely seen as a way of making vast amount of money.

The television squabble that lingers over this series, and very nearly prevented it happening at all, is typical of the arrogant way the BCCI does its business.

And the court ruling that put a temporary administrator in place took a bizarre turn during the first Test when Ranjan Madugalle, the match referee, couldn't find anyone to type and release his judgement on Virender Sehwag's Code of Conduct violation.

Hopefully, when we arrive at the ground in Nagpur, there will be plenty of technical haves, and none of their shadows, the have-nots, to make sure you can hear a continuation of this exciting, character-creating series.

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