First phase of World T20 ticket sales begins
The ICC has begun the sale of tickets for the World T20 in India on its website, with less than two weeks for the event to begin. The first phase of the sale, which went live at 12 pm IST on February 24, made tickets available for matches in Bangalore, Chennai, Dharamsala, Kolkata and Mohali, but excluded those featuring India, the semi-finals and the final of the men's and women's events. The second phase of the sale - for matches in Mumbai, Delhi and Nagpur - will begin at 12pm IST on February 26.
Tickets for seven "highly sought after" matches - four India games, the semi-finals and the final - will be sold online through a lottery system, where buyers need to indicate their preferred match after registering themselves. They will then be moved to a draw where the winners will be chosen through an automated process following which they will receive a payment link to complete the booking. The window to register for the lottery will be open only for seven days from February 25. Only two tickets can be purchased per person for India matches, the semi-finals and the final, while for other games a maximum of six tickets per person is allowed.
The BCCI appointed bookmyshow.com as the ticketing agency for the event, and said the entire ticketing process was "monitored and audited by a reputed auditing agency."
A member of the organising committee told ESPNcricinfo that the schedule for the sale of tickets over-the-counter for all matches - including India's and the knockouts - would be announced by the respective hosting centres. He said the lottery system was to streamline the high demand for tickets.
"We had to do lottery system, otherwise when a traditional ticket counter opens up, some 20,000 people queue up," the official said. "The first 10,000 get tickets and then there is a lathi charge. We have to move away from that culture.
"If you put tickets online on first-come-first-serve basis, there will be some 10,000 people who click at 12. After 12:05 pm, the entire system becomes redundant. The traffic for these high-priority games is huge, so everyone must get a fair opportunity."
When ESPNcricinfo accessed the website at 12:01 pm there was a queue of 5907 and it took our staffer 12 minutes to reach the top of the queue. After she selected her match of choice there was another queue of 931 where the waiting time was about two minutes. The whole transaction was completed in 15 minutes.
While ticket sales for previous World T20s had commenced three to six months ahead of the event, the current edition has had a number of delays. The ICC had earlier refused to be drawn into any criticism of the ticketing process, stating it would be "inappropriate" to make comparisons. The organising committee member attributed the delay to a combination of factors, including the uncertainty over the status of Delhi as a venue.
"The schedule was launched only on December 19 (sic December 11), and only after that our work starts," he said. "We have to start pricing separately for women's games, men's games, the semi-finals and final. Once the ticketing agency is finalised you will have to do backend mapping. Delhi has obviously been a contributing factor for the delay. Till 10 days ago I didn't know if I had to push those games to some other venue."
The official said other hosting nations in the past had been able to put tickets up for sale early because of the ICC announcing the fixtures "well in advance." He also pointed to the logistical issues of hosting matches at eight venues - previous editions of the World T20 had only three venues. "As much as it looks like a T20 format, look at the complexity of the whole tournament. This is the first time we are doing women's and men's matches together, and we have double-headers," he said. However, the last three editions of the World T20 had men's and women's games together.
While such delays hurt the travelling fan the most, the official said ticket sales were almost entirely driven by local public. "Look at this way, India as a destination … it has always been local sale which chews up into the entire volume than people coming from outside," he said. "That's not a reason [for the delay], but it's a comfort in some way."
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo