Sharda Ugra at the 2011 World Cup March 24, 2011

Motera, trapped in a time warp

If the World Cup is to be a roll call of some of India's leading venues across the country, then the ones lurking at the bottom of the pile should be Delhi (for administrative inefficiency) and Ahmedabad for a startling shabbiness

If the World Cup is to be a roll call of some of India's leading venues across the country, then the ones lurking at the bottom of the pile should be Delhi (for administrative inefficiency) and Ahmedabad for a startling shabbiness. Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla has been remodelled, but its governors have stayed the same. It is Ahmedabad which is a mystery.

When the 1987 World Cup came to Motera, with an India-Australia game, crowds walked in carrying picnic baskets of food and spent the day munching through a hamper of goodies, which beat the quality and quantity of everything on offer. Motera was still a village with a cricket ground plonked in it. Its surroundings have gone from being fields, farmlands and mud houses to concrete low-rise homes, shops and a south-north access road. Over the last two decades, the stadium has made additions to its stands and is now entirely covered. In the city that has one of India's few drive-in cinemas still working, a big cricket match is still treated like Friday night at the movies. Everybody wants to make the only show on the solitary day. Two days before the World Cup, the ticket stands outside the Motera are not marked "Sold Out" but "House Full".

The world around it and the sport it celebrates has changed radically, but on the inside, the Sardar Patel Stadium has stayed trapped in a time warp. Let it be known however that players facilities are immaculate: the dressing rooms are huge, there are a handy bunch of nets on one side of the ground and teams get feted and looked after like State guests. For the public though, it has all been allowed to go into what appears to be a state of decay: corridors are musty, toilets are dirty, their powerful smell hangs around the staircases along with paan stains. There are cobwebs and trails of dirt running on walls, this even through the newer parts of the stadium. Special 'boxes' in one section of the ground were ready for the big day with a decor that could only be called grunge.

All of that could be window dressing but a section of the road being tarred and laid out just a day before the World Cup quarter-final is not. A two-kilometre queue of traffic three hours before the toss on single lane access to the stadium is not. Nor is the sight of people milling about dangerously in front of traffic prone to sudden acceleration at the sign of a turning or a gate, watched by indifferent cops who had thought nothing of organising a safe pathway for pedestrians. This was the city's biggest ODI in the last 15 years, surely the men behind Motera could have done better. They receive the BCCI's largesse in crores of rupees every year to update facilities and they have had three years to slap the ground into shape. The crowd atmosphere at the Sardar Patel Stadium was excellent and players won't complain. But Motera's fitness as a specator-friendly venue remains sorely suspect.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on April 1, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    I was extremely enthusiastic about the quarters, reaching the stadium an hour before the toss only to see an extremely long queue to enter the west end. it took me one and a half hour of pushing, pulling and witnessing people getting the lathis before finally managing to get in. and once in, the cops at the lower stand close the gates sending everyone to the upper stand. you reach the upper stand to find the same scene. It took me more than half of australia's innings to finally get a seat and settle down. If it wasnt for seeing India beat the WC holders, I would have lost all interest. But does the audience deserve this treatment..??

  • testli5504537 on March 28, 2011, 16:18 GMT

    I agree with you Sandeep. The world deserves better. I'm an Indian living abroad. I absolutely love my country. Having said that, I can't believe that India, a country that gave the world the Bhagavad Gita (a manuscript on selfless action) is home to some of the most corrupt administrations in the world. The worst part is this corrupt and selfish behavior is manifested in all aspects of the Indian society (from a government clerk, to a police officer to a CEO).

    Guys, it's easy to ignore a problem thinking that it would fix itself. The pragmatic thing to do is to find a solution to this. If not, WHEN will this end?

  • testli5504537 on March 28, 2011, 14:06 GMT

    Couldnt agree with you more. The Toilets wer fould and stinking. The caterer ran out of food by 5 PM and people started going to malls outside and bring food wasting 1 hour or more each time! Security was lax and there were more people in the lower pavilion that the number of tickets that were sold....all in all a very bad experience but the match....that was great

  • testli5504537 on March 28, 2011, 12:52 GMT

    Every place has its positives and negatives, Motera looked wonderful from inside, the ground was green and well maintained. If the author was trying to be a tourist then he is in the wrong place as this was a cricket game and not a tourist location. Stop abusing Ahmedabad, we all understand that you are jealous of it in many ways.

  • testli5504537 on March 28, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    Nce Article!!!lets stop becoming Hypocrites in the name of patriotism !!most of the iNdian Stadias miss the good facility fo rthe Spectators..Its "US" who make this game such big, but we are always ignored, Like, Auditors inspect the Corporates, these state and Indian Sports bodies should be inspected..We have both enough money and talent to build a nice Sports Infrastructure !!!

  • testli5504537 on March 28, 2011, 7:17 GMT


  • testli5504537 on March 28, 2011, 4:51 GMT

    Kotla must rank as the bottom most for reasons over and above inefficiency. Every time I watch a match there, I'm reminded of unauthorized constructions in unauthorized colonies regularized at a later date. There's no part in the stands but for the first few rows of the first floor of that ugly hospitality stand on the south from where one can have more than 60% view of the ground. The new stands look haphazard and too vertical. Almost like apartment blocks. The beautiful mound stands on the east and west hills are cornered and screwed up by that hospitality stand which protrudes almost to the boundary ropes. The less said about the pitch the better it would be. Delhi Police still continues to manage its kins to the stands though post-IPL the instances of mounted police driving away valid ticket holders have reduced significantly.

  • testli5504537 on March 27, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    I was at this game, and the journo is spot on with his comments. The Stadium is a mess, the organization is shameful and as far as the security goes, the cops were letting in people without tickets for as little as Rs.100.

    The stairs between seats were crammed with people who'd gotten in without legitimate tickets, or those who'd lost their seats to those without legitimate tickets.

    The refusal to allow people to carry drinking water purchased from the ICC 'approved' vendor into the stadium on a furiously hot and humid day was also ill-advised. Mobile phones were banned, yet there were still numerous people who'd snuck them in.

    It was an absolute shambles of an event from an organizational perspective. For those saying 'get over it, India won', I'm afraid that it's exactly this attitude that gives these administrators an out. It doesn't matter whether India wins or loses, what's also important is that the stadium experience is safe and hygienic.

    The Indian fan deserves better.

  • testli5504537 on March 26, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    It is important for individuals to act responsibly to lift the nation as a whole. If a billion people each does one's share in non-littering, planting trees, conserving water and electricity, it will build up to an enormous lot. Of course, a good share of that will go into corrupt pockets, creating an unequal distribution, but that should not be a deterrent - altruism comes from having no incentive to earn credit or benefit for self, but for the society. As inspiration, look at the tv interview of the Egyptian woman sweeping her street willingly during the recent revolution just because it was her country.

  • testli5504537 on March 26, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    i was there on match day... most corrupted stadium i ever seen... mobiles were not allowed but if u have 50 bugs, give it to cop n take ur mobile inside.. water bottle rs. 30 but not available n if u have 20rs more to pay, same bottle is available.... after lunch everything is allowed to take inside like food n mobile n water too... then y not they allow everything from starting.. people r inside from 11 a.m. they need water n food both... everyone cant pay 50 rs for a bottle.... free water was available there but just for 3 hrs... then what ?

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