Tag Archives: Cricket

Triumph in Ticketing

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There are some distinct disadvantages to this whole “time zone” arrangement they use to keep the clocks on this planet all organized.

One of the bad things is that when you want to do something in another time zone, it’s just the wrong time, and so it was for me early this morning.

Tickets for the World Twenty20 championship next year in London went on sale today at the reasonable time of 10:00AM, BST. Being an international cricket championship, there’s a lot of interest from cricketing nations around the world, for example India (where it was 2:30 PM), Australia (7:00PM in Sydney), New Zealand (9:00PM) or South Africa (11:00AM)… all perfectly reasonable time to be purchasing tickets.

But consider us poor folk in Arizona. 10:00AM BST is 02:00AM here. That’s not a reasonable hour to be doing anything, except sleeping.

And yet… there I was, at 1:50AM, with only a small nap in the afternoon, preparing for the mad rush for tickets.

The Internet and credit cards are the great equalizers in the world today, and I was hopeful that I’d at least be able to get tickets for a Super-8 match, but I had my list prepared, in order from most desirable to least desirable match.

At 1:50, the ICC website changed. The link to buy tickets was now real, and so I immediately followed the link to the ticketing company. It was still too early, but a message came up saying, “Due to the current high demand you have been placed in a queue.”

How uniquely British! Rather than a major ticket vendor like TicketMasters have sufficient hardware to handle the task (What? They don’t have big events?) they developed a way to appeal to the British love of forming queues.

The estimated wait time progress bar crept across the screen, and, after just 10 minutes, I was deposited on a ICC T20 page – I think. The page was a squib. THere was nothing on it except ICC graphics. What to do? What to do? Should I continue to wait, or should I try a page reload? The page might not be auto-refreshing, on the other hand, reloading the page might dump me back to the beginning of the queue.

Or… could the bad page be because I was using Safari for my browser?

By now it was 2:05 and I fired up Firefox and put it on a second screen. It was waiting in queue, and the progress bar was slowly moving. I decided to gamble and I hit reload in Safari. The squib page reloaded, so I tried again,

This time a login page popped up: You must login or register to purchase ticket. I clicked the register button… I got a squib page. I tried a reload and I ended up back at the login page. I tried register again, this time the registration screen came up. Quickly I entered my information and hit “submit”. It was 2:09… and after a minute, a “page not found” came up.

I tried reload again – and was put at the back of the queue. Had I registered? How long would I wait?

I decided to let the Firefox copy run and I shut down Safari. Firefox had already achieved a 25% complete progress bar. My hopes of getting tickets to the final match were fading fast, especially when I began to realize the progress bar would periodically shorten itself. One minute it would be 40% done, the next 15%.

One hour, 45 minutes later and I was once again put to the login screen. I risked it and tried the login I had tried to create earlier. It worked! I was in! I zipped to the tickets for the final, fully expecting them to be sold out and… bought my my tickets, paid for them, logged out and went to bed.

OK, the story ends somewhat anticlimactically, but it it helps make it some more problematic, by this time it was 4:00AM, and I was soon due to wake up for work, and the adrenaline rush from desperately, impatiently waiting had wound me up enough that I couldn’t really sleep.

Still. June 2009, the UK.

Let’s hope the world economy doesn’t collapse so badly that it’s possible to actually use those tickets.

Am I behind?

Yes, I am. Four episodes of Doctor Who behind on the reviews… guess I’d better get to it.

It’s just… I don’t know… It’s just that this season really isn’t inspiring me much.

Fine… in honor of Dan Vettori getting his name up on the honours board at Lords for a 5-wicket test, and Jacob Oram getting his name up there for a century, I guess the least I can do is step up and review Doctor Who…

McCullum (and Cricket and stuff)

Spoilers, I suppose.

Well, the Indian Premiere League (IPL) is off to a flyer. The first match, between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Royal Challengers Bangalore was a rout. Bangalore lost by 140 runs. Since 140 runs isn’t a bad Twenty20 score on an Indian wicket, that’s like loosing by an entire game.

Not to denigrate the contribution of the other Knight Riders, but this victory can almost be handed solely to Brendon McCullum, the Kiwi wicketkeeper who carried his bat for 158 runs and bringing the Knight Riders’ score to a staggering 222. This man is an amazing striker of the ball and I still remember his pounding of Bangladesh last year when he kept hitting balls out of the grounds and onto runway of the nearby airport.

He certainly put on a hell of a show for the estimated 50,000+ spectators in Bagalore.

So, I suppose I’ll make a few comments about the IPL and, by extension, the Indian Cricket League ( ICL).

The ICL and the IPL are competing cricket leagues in India. Both use the controversial (but only to stick-in-mud, luddites) Twenty20 format. (I’ll go on record as saying it is the superior format of the game for spectators. It’s not without some problems that time should smooth out, but then it is a very new format of the game.) The ICL was created when a television conglomerate repeatedly lost bids for cricket television rights, even though they were the highest bidder. What the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had in mind by rejecting the bids, I won’t speculate on. Nonetheless, the ICL was formed trying to use a more football-like club system. International players were brought in (and in a fit of childish anger) subsequently banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC) from playing in traditional international cricket.

The buzz for the ICL made the BCCI realize they’d possibly missed a colossal money-making opportunity, so they moved to create the IPL, using much the same format of the ICL. The main difference being that, with the BCCI and ICC’s nods of approval, international players weren’t necessarily struck from their home countries’ teams. This lead the way for current players of McCullum’s ilk to be in the IPL. (Not that there aren’t some top international players in the ICL, like Shane Bond, but they had to burn their bridges to sign.)

I watched through a significant number of the ICL games, and found that with no geographic support for any of the Indian cities, and not knowing virtually any of the players, I had trouble picking a team to support. I finally choose Hyderabad, simply because they did so poorly at first and turned themselves around. No one was more surprised than I was when they went into the semi-finals, then finals and then actually beating the seemingly unstoppable Lahore team in two nail-biting matches.

So, now we come to the first match of the IPL series and, despite the similarities, the contrast – in entirely superficial ways – is marked.

I’ll say that, having, once again no loyalty to any city in India, prior to the start of the series, I had decided to support the Knight Riders simply because of their name, which is ludicrous, and because McCullum is one of my favorite players. (I support New Zealand in all international cricket events.)

That was before I saw their uniforms – black with glittery gold fabric, and metallic gold-painted helmets and pads?!?! I think McCullum was just trying to prove he wasn’t a sissy-pants wearing that uniform.

In fact, the uniforms almost sums up the differences in a nutshell. The ICL played on smaller grounds, probably with a capacity of about 20,000 people. In some cases, the stands were packed, with people climbing onto roofs and every available spot to see the games. The commentators we good with a nice banter between the pairings. The uniforms were colorful, as is the norm in Twenty20, but not outlandish and they even had cheerleaders and Bollywood stars performing during the break between innings.

Now, switch to the IPL. The first match was in a stadium with a capacity of 55,000, and was nearly full. There were lasers and smoke, and hot cheerleaders (the ICL cheerleaders were pretty, but not what I’d expect for professional sports), performers, flashy gold uniforms, banners and streamers… it really did look like they were going for some form of 70’s glam rock concert. For the first time ever, I kind of saw what the test cricket snobs are talking about when they say it cheapens the image of the sport. This certainly looks like it is turning the game into a circus.

But then… have they never seen any Bollywood movies? We were at an Indian Bistro for dinner last night and they had the Zee Cinema network running. (Zee entertainment, by the way, are the people who bring us ICL cricket in the US and are the only network I know of that broadcasts cricket in the US, thank you very much!) The film was in Hindi, but typical of the Indian Films I’ve seen. A guy is in love with a beautiful woman. She’s in a car accident. She’s dying. Another woman is dying – she needs an organ transplant. The first dying woman gives up her organs to save the other. They break into a massive musical song and dance number with what appears to be people in traditional Greek outfits. Although we didn’t see the end of the film, I’m sure the man falls in love with the woman who received his lover’s organ transplant – along with a few other obligatory sound and dance numbers.

Why would they not expect this in Indian Cricket designed for showmanship?

Still, even in the few months I’ve been watching Twenty20 games, I’ve seen marked improvement in the tactics and the skills, as the players adapt to the new format. Who knows, maybe they will finally crack the US market?

Advent: IPL

I don’t care what the stuck-up, toffy-nosed “Test Cricket”, cricket-must-be-boring-and-take-5-days snobs say, I, for one, have been enjoying the India Cricket League Twenty20 matches and am looking forward to the India Premiere League games, too.

How could you not, with adverts like this one?

Hurrah for Dick’s


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What can I say?

Three cheers for Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Recently, Dick’s, a mega-sports store, has opened a couple of outlets in Phoenix. (And when I say Phoenix, I actually mean in the desolate wastelands of Phoenix’s suburbs.) Not too long ago, we stopped in the one just past the Hawaiian BBQ place and just this side of the Arctic circle and I made a fairly exhaustive search to see if they carried any cricket gear.

No such luck.

While I’ve located an “English” grocery in town (that’s really Indian) that carries bats, balls and protective gear, I can neither afford to spend hundreds of dollars on the gear, nor do I have any practical opportunity to play. However, my kids – Michelle at least – are getting old enough to try playing sports (and James is willing to give it a try, even if he hasn’t quite got the coordination yet.) The problem is, I just can’t really see handing Michelle a fine, expensive chunk of English Willow and letting her brandish it. That just seems a recipe for a broken skull and a broken wallet.

No, what I needed was something like those cheap plastic kids’ baseball bats that they sell at every toy store in America. Well? Come to think of it, why not? Surely they must do the same thing in the UK. If not there, then surely in Australia, where no doubt they wean their children by giving them cricket bats soaked in a mixture of beer and vegemite.

While I couldn’t find exactly that sort of thing online, I did finally come across beach cricket sets, which not only feature plastic bats, but include plastic balls, stumps and bails.

Perfect.

Except for one thing: Shipping to the US is quite literally $60 – that’s more than the cost of the actual set.

That’s where Dick’s came along. They might not have cricket gear in their stores, but they’ve got a limited selection from the mail order service, which included a Gray-Nicolls beach cricket set. It cost twice as much as the set from the UK, but also has twice as much equipment – two bats, two sets of stumps and bails and four balls, and shipping is only $10.

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The set itself is considerably stronger plastic than I’d dare hope. Now I just have to figure out where to take the kids to practice… and find 18 more people to flesh out two teams…

One problem at a time. In the meantime, look at my son’s follow-through on his first attempt at bowling.