JIS News

The volunteers for the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, especially those in the media centre at Sabina Park, were a big hit with Sundar Iyer, correspondent with Times Now, a 24-hour News Channel owned by the Times of India Group.
The 28-year old journalist, who was in the Caribbean for the first time to cover the ICC CWC, became somewhat of a celebrity, what with all the attention he received after he lost his media bag with important documents at Sabina Park, where he was covering the opening match of the tournament between West Indies and Pakistan on March 13.
His story is a simple one about restored faith in humanity, as happily, it ended with him being reunited with the precious items that he thought were lost for good.
Mr. Iyer’s unexpected ordeal started amidst all the excitement associated with travelling so far from home and creating personal milestones such as covering the prestigious cricket tournament and meeting Ricardo Powell, a former West Indian cricket player, famous for his power hitting and fielding prowess.
“It was something I preferred not to have happened but I lost my ICC CWC media kit bag in which I rather stupidly left my passport, travel documents and money,” he tells JIS News.
“I left my bag by the media centre with my laptop and cameras and I went to collect my media ticket and then I met Ricardo Powell and stepped out to do an interview and when I came back the bag was missing from the desk,” Mr. Iyer recalls.
Immediately, he indicated his distress to the volunteers at the centre, who sprung into action, looking for the bag. “The volunteers were the most wonderful persons we were in contact with especially after I lost my bag. I was so well looked after; they all came down and expressed their concern and told me not to worry that I would find it,” he remembers, while adding that they all provided the emotional support he needed at the time.
Much to everyone’s dismay, the search turned up nothing and subsequently, the decision was made to report the matter to the police.
“Then the ICC passed a [missing bag] pamphlet around to each journalist presuming that someone might have mistakenly taken it, which is what we were hoping for, but we went through lunch and the end of play and there was no sign of my bag,” he says.
By the end of the day, he had not only given up all hope of finding his bag, he was also fraught with worry about not being able to travel to other host venues to report on the matches.
This fear was however averted with the provision of a replacement passport by the Indian High Commission. “I was fortunate to get a passport the next morning and scanned copies of my airline tickets,” he notes.
Other persons on hearing of his plight, tried to assist, and his story even made a local newspaper. When this was brought to his attention, he could not help but feel that he had become a celebrity, which managed to cheer him up a little. He was even given another media bag filled with goodies.
With the issue of continuing his job quickly addressed with the help of technology, he left Jamaica after two days to cover matches in St. Lucia and then to St. Kitts, still thinking about the contents of his missing bag.
Back in Jamaica, his plight was still very much on the minds of many of the volunteers, who wondered how he was faring while journeying through the rest of the Caribbean.
“I was very concerned about him and the fact that such an incident happened on his first trip to Jamaica and also at the opening match,” says Judith Hunter, who worked as a volunteer at the ticketing centre in media services. “He was such a great person and I felt so bad for him,” she adds.
Little did anyone know that the missing bag would make an appearance in an unexpected place in the northern stand at Sabina Park on March 23, the last day of the group stage matches in Jamaica. By then, Mr. Iyer was in Guyana, making plans to travel to Grenada.
“It was the match between West Indies and Ireland when I got a call late in the evening from Brian Murgatroyd, the ICC Media and Communication Manager that bag was found, which initially I refused to believe .the bag was found in the broadcast room,” he recalls, while chuckling.
“It must have been indeed taken mistakenly by a fellow journalist, who was too embarrassed to return it,” he surmises.
With his birthday coming up on April 4, he said the news was the best gift he could have received. “It had absolutely everything in it,” he says, still pleasantly surprised at his good fortune. The decision was made not to courier the bag to Guyana as it contained his important documents. “I told them to keep the bag until I returned to Kingston on April 23,” he says.
Sure enough, he arrived back in Kingston on April 23 for the semi-final between Sri Lanka and New Zealand the next day at Sabina Park. The volunteers, who had been on hiatus for nearly a month, and who were totally unaware of the good news, descended on him, in numbers, enquiring about his welfare.
“The volunteers were more like family I must say. When I came back and got my passport I was overjoyed. The volunteers seeing my smile were more thrilled than me. My cameraman said that you are probably a super star because everyone knows you.the volunteers in Kingston were just amazing,” he gushes.
He also notes that everywhere he travelled within the Caribbean the volunteers were very cooperative and very friendly to all. “I think the volunteers were able to showcase the Caribbean spirit and the fact that they are the friendliest people around,” he says.
Overall, he says the entire experience of covering the ICC CWC 2007 was “brilliant” because of the excellent facilities provided at the venues. He, however notes that the cricket on the field could have been better.
After travelling to Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Grenada, Guyana, this proud vegetarian, who took a liking to Caribbean rice and peas, will end his sojourn in the West Indies in Barbados, after covering today’s (April 28) final between Sri Lanka and Australia.