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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 April 2006, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Simon Mann's column
BBC cricket reporter Simon Mann
By Simon Mann
BBC cricket reporter in India

The unsavoury scenes that followed the abandonment of the fifth one-day international may threaten Guwahati's future as an international venue.

Crowd trouble in Guwahati
When police came under attack from a hail of stones, they responded by throwing them back

The ground authorities, however, must take some of the blame for the violence.

India had not played here for four years and around 20,000 spectators waited patiently for several hours while the groundstaff tried everything, including a helicopter, to dry the outfield.

During that time, no announcements were made to keep the crowd informed of progress or hint at the news that was being given to the media, namely that the ground was saturated and there was little chance of play.

The PR was appalling. Outwardly, there was every indication that there would be some action; the stumps were even put in position and the creases were marked out.

But the outfield was so wet that it would not have been unreasonable to call the match off before the scheduled start at nine o'clock local time.

Once the game was abandoned, stones and bricks were thrown, advertising sheets were ripped down and set on fire and three TV cameras were destroyed.

A spectator who pushed over a TV gantry on the boundary was beaten unconscious and when police came under attack from a hail of stones, they responded by hurling them back.

The crowd eventually dispersed once tear gas was fired on to the terraces.

Indian cricket's governing body, the BCCI, is rolling in money after recently signing two major TV contracts. Some of that cash needs to go towards ground improvements.

Irfan Pathan
India's Irfan Pathan signing autographs for the crowd

The Nehru Stadium resembles a ramshackle English football ground from the 1970s, but the BCCI's attitude appears to be that if spectators continue to turn up in vast numbers, everything must be fine.

That is a short-sighted and misguided approach.

The authorities could start by providing cover for spectators, the vast majority of whom are forced to sit for hours exposed to the sun. .

Clearly, they also need to communicate information effectively, especially during rain-affected matches.

They need to stamp out scams which sometimes result in two sets of tickets being printed for the same seats and also end the practice of confiscating water bottles on entry to grounds.

India are an attractive team to watch, but the experience of doing so is not always much fun because of poor facilities.

Lalit Modi, the board's vice-president, talked a good game on local television before the series began.

If he required evidence of the need to deliver, it was here at Guwahati.




SEE ALSO
India grounds profiled
13 Feb 06 |  Cricket
England in India 2006
08 Dec 05 |  Future tour dates


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