A riveting end to T20 World Cup's desert safari

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15 Nov 2021 | 03:17 AM
authorSandipan Banerjee

A riveting end to T20 World Cup's desert safari

After nearly a month, 45 matches, the T20 World Cup 2021 comes to an end with Australia winning an epic final over New Zealand in Dubai

As soon as that Glen Maxwell reverse-sweep went past the short third man fielder, the Australian camp erupted with joy. It was their maiden T20 World Cup glory after all. A team, which was not even considered favourites for a berth in the semis right at the start, let alone winning the championship, has had the last laugh amid all the fireworks at the Dubai International Stadium on the night of the mega final. 

Meanwhile, it was not just the Australian team that celebrated their success on Sunday night, there was another bunch of the people who finally had time to rejoice as the curtain came down to this month-long cricket extravaganza. 

Yes, we are referring to the organisers, who worked relentlessly behind the scenes to make this global event a success amid a pandemic. 

The ICC and the local organisers Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), had a short notice period when the 2021 T20 World Cup, which was supposed to be hosted by the BCCI, was shifted from India to the United Arab Emirates and Oman due to the COVID situation. It was a logistical nightmare. 

Yet the men and women in charge of the proceedings did a fantastic job to prepare the four venues — three in the UAE and one in Oman — for this mega 16-team event. 

Of course, the infrastructure already in place at the UAE-based venues for the Indian Premier League and recent experience of hosting the T20 League on these grounds helped the cause immensely, but organising a global event involving national sides has its own challenges. And this was the first time UAE was hosting an international cricketing event of such magnitude.

For the Oman leg of the tournament, a number of new facilities were specifically installed to give that Muscat ground a world-class look.

Nevertheless, there were country-specific travel requirements for the teams, broadcasting personnel and for the travelling media. The bio-bubble arrangements along with all the COVID-related facilities had to be full-proof to avoid any unforeseen situation. 

Also, world-class practice facilities and a well-planned schedule were required for the players to have their training sessions smoothly. At the venues, the accredited press had its own demands too.

Well, each one of those aspects were taken care of quite meticulously by the organisers, who deserve a pat on the back for sure.  

However, the most challenging job for the local authorities and the event management professionals working in this tournament had to be crowd management. Most of the venues had allowed at least 70 percent of the capacity crowd on match days. And during some of the matches (especially the ones involving Afghanistan), we had some reckless mobs and a few unfortunate happenings did take place. 

Though the local law enforcement authorities were quick to respond and none of those incidents were repeated in the rest of the tournament.

The groundsmen and curators also deserve a huge shoutout for their extensive planning of providing high-quality turfs, despite hosting 30 odd IPL matches at the same venues, right before the start of this World Cup. 

Yes, on some occasions we had low-scoring matches but the quality of the pitches improved drastically as the tournament progressed. There was a lot of watering on the surfaces and the men in charge prepared their schedule in such a way that the wickets got a decent rest after the IPL and before being reused in this World Cup.

Overall, this 2021 edition of the T20 World Cup has been a success, especially considering the present circumstances around the world. For us, who all attended this event in person, felt quite safe and secure from any sort COVID-related concerns throughout the event, despite getting almost pre-pandemic-like working facilities.

It was the first global cricketing event in the COVID-era and perhaps the organisers here have presented a nice template of hosting such sporting events in this post-pandemic world, for the rest of the sporting fraternity to follow.

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New Zealand vs AustraliaICC World Twenty20, 2021

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