Friday, February 18, 2011

Celebration of Cricket - World Cup Opening Ceremony

Today is a day of celebration for the entire cricket world as the editions of world cup entered double digits. The opening ceremony which officially marked the beginning of the 10th edition of the cup delivered high valued entertainment which has not only left every one impressed but also has made news for its precise execution. Sports and art have always complemented each other since their evolution but as history suggests International Cricket Council’s (ICC) relationship with ceremonies to mark events have not been occasions to savour. Let it be the Eden Garden’s pitch controversy in 1996 world cup or 1999’s weather interference at Lord’s or 2003’s drag every time ICC had ventured beyond its domain there were eyebrows raised with respect to the real need for such failed attempts of celebration. As the hype built up around this year’s world cup the world was staring with suspicion and a lot was at stake for ICC.

All doubts were put to rest as the spectacular opening ceremony at Bangladesh’s historically rich Bangabandhu stadium not only enthralled the packed house and the one billion households over 180 territories courtesy Espn Star Sports (ESS) live feed but also left a huge impact on the economic value and cultural image of the host country. Tonight Sharad Pawar and company can heave a sigh of relief.
For a young nation which gained independence in 1971 today was its time for glory. Being the only sport where their national team features in the world cup it had to be cricket that brought them the big moment they had been waiting for long. Today for a change the world did not point out at the country’s slow on field progress but stood up to appreciate the energy and enthusiasm that blew in the air and saluted the endeavor of every citizen to make the day historic. It is a moment of pride for a country where cricket is the biggest connector among various classes of the society. Right from the time when the country’s national anthem was sung which was the opening act till the last performance of the evening the glitter in the eyes of every Bangladeshi communicated the delight they took in being host to the 14 nations and a smile on their face confirmed their dream of having an international ‘I was there’ moment written down in their diary had finally come true.

Taking the captains of 14 teams to the center stage in rickshaws accompanied by kids struck chord with the entire country where public transport still largely is dependent on manual labor. The captains on the stage with their chest upright was a visual that signified the meaning of the world cup, it is indeed the cup that matters. Just when the anticipation from the evening was reaching its crescendo the tempo had to be broken in true sub continental style and that was the sole dampener of the evening.

Public events in this part of the world are more about political mileages and there was no way the world cup could escape it. Four men who are primarily politicians holding honorary positions as cricket administrators and the head of the state spoilt the momentum with their long speeches that could have been easily avoided. The crowd was least bothered of the address and was busier with antics wishing to be captured on the giant screen for a moment’s fame; the captains were engrossed in their own world thinking of the big days that lie ahead but none on the dais made an attempt to notice the pulse, after all the agendas were fixed. As predictable there were requests for grants, appreciations, ego massages, self praise for the hard work and congratulatory messages which ideally suit the script of a closing ceremony. If ICC had thought that by having Bryan Adams, Shankar-Eshan-Loy, Sonu Nigam and other big names it can get away with the monotonous nature of the speeches then it for sure lost a few points there. However considering the political hassles they operate within it is unfair to blame them or the four Bangladeshi speakers for their time in front of the microphone since this was their first tryst with international glitz and glamour. Claps that followed were more of a sign of respite. It is either time to stop such farce or grow beyond it and there is no better time than now to pass a resolution wherein ceremonial speeches in public events do not exceed beyond a minute or two. Assigning psychologists to tutor politicians on an average human being’s grasping capacity would solve a few problems too.

The trusted route of showcasing the colorful tradition and vibrant culture of the three host countries livened up the audience whose interest levels were slowly sliding. The seamless assimilation of the artists from one performance to another depicting the heritage and history of the sub continent, the melodious tunes of prominent singing sensations, dazzling fire works and the innovative concept of Ariel cricket lit like bright stars on a clear night. For the first time cricket was played on air though virtually by real men and the depiction deserved to be on the tallest building of Dhaka that had been the backdrop of Bangladesh cricket for so many years before the base shifted to Mirpur.

All in all the sub continent lived up to the expectation and Wizcraft International Entertainment yet again enhanced its reputation. Every body who witnessed the evening got good value for a Thursday entertainment and it surely boosted the spirit of the 14 nations for whom business begins day after tomorrow for the next 45 days. Many years from now when a player from the sub continent makes it big in the international arena and attributes his success to the energy that rubbed him on 17th February 2011 will ICC know whether it was able to break its jinx with ceremonies entirely or not.

Time for Cricket to begin.

Sidhanta Patnaik
Thursday, 17 February 2011 at 23:59, Bangalore

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