New Delhi, February 8 (IANS). The ninth edition of the Men's T20 World Cup will be the biggest event in the history of the tournament, with the number of participating nations ranging from 16 to 20 teams.
The 55-match competition will be held from June 1-29 in nine cities across the West Indies and the USA, with many eager to see if the sport can truly become the global sport it has long aspired to be. Is, especially in crowded America. Sports scenario.
IANS spoke exclusively to Fawwaz Baksh, tournament director of the 2024 Men's T20 World Cup, about the challenges faced in preparing for the much-awaited tournament, the work done at existing venues and building a 34,000-seat temporary cricket stadium in New York. done.
Q. What have been the challenges in preparing to host the Men's T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA?
A. Well, they are not actually two countries. It is seven countries because the West Indies includes a group of member countries. In the West Indies, the tournament is being held in Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Antigua apart from three venues in the United States. Thus, seven countries are hosting the tournament at nine venues. No matter where you host the tournament, the challenges will always be the same.
But in England or Australia, there are many places that are hosting, and each country has its own unique way of doing things. Then again, West Indies-USA is no different. But the big thing is that we have good relations with all the stakeholders and governments. So, even though we are different countries, we all have the same aim and goal.
We know what the challenges are, or the nuances of hosting tournaments in every country and we are well equipped to deal with those things. But the biggest challenge will be to deal with the movement of teams across all those countries and ensure that the experience they have in one country is replicated in the other, which basically means continuity of services.
However, one thing we learned from Covid-19 is that it taught us how to work in challenging circumstances. As such, dealing with such a different and logistically challenging tournament is something that we are now prepared to handle.
We have very good relationships with our suppliers and stakeholders to get charter services, hotels and all the other logistics services we need. So although it is challenging, it is something that we have done for many years, and through good relations, we are going to achieve it.
Q. How is work going on upgrading existing venues ahead of the competition, especially in the United States?
A. That's actually something I'm very proud of – seeing how much our governments in the West Indies have stepped up to this tournament. We first organized the World Cup (Men's ODI) in 2007, where we did not have venues as per ICC standards. So we built nine venues in the West Indies at that time.
But now it has been almost two decades since we built our venues and every government is doing all the necessary work on the venues to meet the ICC expectations, the players coming in and the fans coming to the stadiums in the West Indies. Again, in the United States, this is a new tournament, because cricket is not something that is on everyone's lips, although MLC has been played.
Thankfully, Broward County has had a cricket stadium since 2007, which has been used for seven international matches. We have put in some hospitality seats – they are all temporary – just to make sure it meets ICC requirements. We are complementing the permanent features with temporary upgrades to ensure broadcasters and cricketers have the best features to use.
It needs a little more work to reach world-class standard and the organization is helping it get there. Regarding Dallas, it is a fantastic stadium, and there is a good excitement around cricket here because of MLC 2023. Regarding the venue in New York, it is something that has never been done before in cricket. We want to make sure we make an impact when we introduce cricket to the United States.
Q. Speaking specifically about New York, what you call a mega structure, it's going to be a temporary site in Eisenhower Park and there's still a lot of work to be done. How confident are you about the venue meeting the standards of the big event in June, especially as it is going to host the much-awaited India-Pakistan clash?
A. This is the first time that we, ICC or anyone, have built a cricket stadium in such a short period of time. As I speak, ground work is being done there to prepare the grounds and pitches. All the equipment and hardware is arriving to build that massive structure. We have the support of Nassau County in New York, which is providing us with the support we need to accomplish such important work. So it's a lot of effort, but with the cooperation of all the governments of the West Indies and the United States, we are getting it done.
The thing is that nothing like this has ever been done in cricket. When Formula One came to Miami it was done in many sports around the world. There is no Formula One stadium field – there is only temporary infrastructure that goes up at a moment's notice. It's the same with golf tournaments across America. There is no stadium for those things – so it has been put up temporarily.
We are building a cricket stadium for the first time in such a short time, but this is nothing new for the companies with whom we have contracted to build it. He has immense knowledge about how to build a stadium in a short period of time. We hired a design company that has experience in building stadiums, and on a temporary basis too. That's why we brought all those big players in this tournament, for whom doing these things is nothing new.
Although it may seem unrealistic that we are doing this in a short period of time, it is actually strategic. You can't build a stadium, like I'll sit there for a long time and not use it later. But we have to spend money to keep it there. The idea is to finish it a few weeks before the tournament starts so that we can get maximum economic benefit from such a huge structure.
The key to getting everything started was through the Board of Governors in Nassau County. They provided us with the space we needed and went through all the legal processes to ensure that we could build a stadium. We have passed that stage and are now confident of supplies for the construction of our stadium, which is going to be big.