Eden Gardens, Kolkata: “Lord’s of India fights for reputation”

Courtesy of The Australian, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/sport/lords-of-india-fights-for-reputation/story-e6frg7rx-1225996408252

KOLKATA’S unrepentant cricket chief has vowed to appeal against the International Cricket Council’s decision to drop Eden Gardens as the venue for the World Cup’s highly anticipated clash between India and England next month. The Cricket Association of Bengal is also believed to be considering legal action to prevent the February 27 match from being shifted to Bangalore, now the favoured replacement venue. In an angry letter to the Board of Control for Cricket in India cited by Indian media yesterday, CAB president and former ICC chief Jagmohar Dalmiya said he was “shocked” to learn of the decision, particularly in light of the fact that Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium — also undergoing refurbishment — had been granted an extension.

 Eden Gardens on 27th Januar y2011, as depicted by AFP

“We’re ready to hand over fully completed grounds on February 7 provided we’re granted an extension,” Jalmiya wrote. “We are at a loss to understand why the ICC is taking the match away from us with 30 days still to go.”

 Eden Gardens in its former prime

The ICC announced this week it was dropping the ground as the scheduled venue for the  England versus India clash because it was not confident the stadium, currently undergoing extensive renovation, would be ready in time.

ICC officials and consultants who toured the site noted extensive construction work was continuing at the 100,000-capacity ground, and expressed concern that facilities for media, broadcast, sponsorship and cricket operations would not be ready in time. The decision has once again raised questions over India’s ability to host major sporting events The country is still smarting over the Commonwealth Games fiasco — where missed construction deadlines, shoddy venues and organisational chaos attracted international headlines.

Eden Gardens was scheduled to host an additional three World Cup matches in March, but ICC officials warned that a decision on those games would be made after a follow-up inspection took place on Monday.

The BCCI has refused to shoulder any responsibility for Kolkata’s failure, but one official told The Weekend Australian yesterday he sympathised with the CAB and would not be surprised if they sought a legal stay against the ICC’s decision.

“Mr Dalmiya is not a person you can ever write off. It will depend on what cards he chooses to play,” the official said. “If Wankhede got an extension then why not Eden Gardens? He could take this to some civil court in Kolkata. I wouldn’t rule that out.”

West Bengalis are the undisputed cricket tragics of India and Eden Gardens is Indian cricket’s equivalent to Lord’s or the MCG. The venue has hosted some of the highest-profile matches of the previous two World Cups held on the subcontinent, including the 1987 final that heralded Steve Waugh’s meteoric rise and the beginnings of Australia’s dominance of international cricket that would last more than a decade. But no international matches have been held in Kolkata since the India-South Africa Test in February as the stadium was being renovated.

In Kolkata yesterday, front pages were dominated with headlines declaring “Kolkata’s Shame”. “This is a disgrace. This is a black day for cricket lovers in the state. I feel ashamed to associate myself with Bengal, a state once known for its rich heritage and culture,” said one cricket fan, Rudrajit Roy.

England players too expressed their disappointment, with fast bowler Stuart Broad posting on Twitter: “Shame Eden Gardens not ready for World Cup, our game vs India there would have been special with 100,000+ crowd.”

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One response to “Eden Gardens, Kolkata: “Lord’s of India fights for reputation”

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