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Format designed keeping top teams in mind - Ratnakar Shetty

Ratnakar Shetty, the BCCI chief administrative officer, arrives for the meeting AFP

The format for the 2011 World Cup was designed to give the top teams the best chance of qualifying for the knockout stage, tournament director Ratnakar Shetty has said.

"Economically, we all know that India is the financial powerhouse of cricket," Shetty said in an interview with ESPNstar.com. "The exit of India and Pakistan from the 2007 World Cup was a disaster for the tournament. The sponsors, broadcasters, tour operators, West Indies board - all lost a lot of money. The format was changed in such a way that it gives all the top teams a chance to compete. We have gone back to the same format that was used in 1996."

Shetty was satisfied with the improvements at the Wankhede Stadium, one of the four World Cup venues that were running behind schedule. Talking about the Eden Gardens fiasco, he said the BCCI and ICC could not have averted the situation by being more involved. "Unlike in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh where the Boards run the show completely, in India, the BCCI doesn't run daily cricket. In our case, the stadia are completely managed by the state associations. The ICC has documented the progress of each venue. The BCCI monitored the reports of the venue, but to ensure that the work is completed was the responsibility of the state association."

Apart from security, Shetty identified filling up Indian grounds for non-India matches as the biggest organisational challenge posed by the tournament. "We have directed all the state associations to throw the gates open to the school children to enjoy a good day out. The tickets have been very reasonably priced too. The ICC is running a lot of contests, and free tickets will be issued to the contest winners, so in our capacity we are doing the best to ensure that the stadia will not see empty stands."

Shetty also stressed that the Indian board made a conscious effort to make the Indian grounds more spectator friendly, something that hasn't been a concern in the past. "To a large extent, the BCCI have taken the spectators for granted, because irrespective of who India plays, the crowds turn up," he said. "There was a serious discussion in the board to make the stadiums spectator-friendly. We didn't want to go by just the numbers. Wankhede's capacity could have been increased, but we have reduced it from 45,000 to 32,000. Similarly the Eden Gardens capacity has been reduced to 65,000. There is more space between the seats.

"The toilet facilities, food courts and the media facilities have all been given a massive facelift, so I am sure people will not complain this time. The IPL has brought a lot of female fans to cricket. Female following has tremendously increased, so we have taken all this into account before redeveloping the stadia."