‘Test matches are coming to Chennai after four years’

‘The capacity of the M A Chidambaram stadium is 36,000 spectators.’
‘We are hoping to get permission for seating 20-30 per cent of this capacity.’

England will tour India for a cricket series early next year.

The Indian cricket board has announced that the Englishmen will play four Tests, five T20s and three one-day internationals across venues in Chennai, Ahmedabad and Pune.

The M A Chidambaram stadium at Chennai will host the first two Tests.

Keeping pandemic restrictions in mind, the cricket board has asked the government permission to allow 30 per cent occupancy in the stadium.

R S Ramasaamy is the secretary of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, which runs the stadium. It’s a post he has handled for a year now, after five years of experience as assistant secretary.

In an interview with A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com, Secretary Ramasaamy explains the logistics of hosting a match in the COVID era.

What are the chances of the central government giving you permission for fans to attend, considering the fact that the pandemic has not ended?

We are hoping that they will allow 30 per cent of the capacity.

The capacity of the stadium is 36,000 spectators. We are hoping to get permission for seating 20-30 per cent of this capacity.

What about the state government? Do you think they will permit it, especially since assembly elections will take place in two months?

We will present our case to them and see what happens. We will be taking all precautions and following all COVID-19 safeguards.

In Australia, we saw that they sold 50 per cent of the tickets and allowed fans to sit where they wished. How are you planning to do it here?

We are going to ask fans to leave two seats empty on either side and sit in the middle seat.

I am sure they will do that when they come in.

We have to ensure that they stay in their designated seats throughout the match.

What about ticket sales? Will tickets will be available at the venue?

Tickets will not be available at the venue. The sales will definitely be only online.

What about food counters and drinking water?

We have not started planning for food counters and water yet. We will plan according to the number of people allowed by the government.

What about toilets? They are supposed to be danger points for the spread of COVID-19.

The toilets will be sterilised completely. They will be sanitised at regular intervals throughout the day. We will follow all COVID protocols.

Fans tend to crowd when they are entering the stadium and also when they leave. How are you planning to control this?

Fans do tend to crowd the entry gates. We will be putting up barricades to ensure that they enter in a single line.

They will also have to leave the stadium in a single line via the barricades.

Will there be temperature checks at the entry point

Yes. We will have temperature checks at the entry point.

If the government allows spectators, they will also issue guidelines. We will follow it strictly.

We will be providing hand sanitisers.

Will you be increasing the ticket rates as only 30 per cent of the tickets can be sold?

We will not increase the rates. Test matches are coming to Chennai after four years. We don’t want the ticket price to be prohibitive.

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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