A crying Vinod Kambli walking off the Eden Gardens in 1996 is one of the most haunting memories of Indian cricket. Since then, the Eden Gardens has not had the best of times and has unfortunately seen India lose far too often. The ground developed a reputation for having the worst crowds and soon enough, the city lost out on hosting key matches. The emergence of better grounds and facilities at venues like Bangalore, Chennai, Mohali and even Nagpur meant that the coliseum that was Kolkata was reduced to a footnote.
Come 2011 and the Cricket World Cup, big time cricket would have returned to the Eden Gardens. But alas, typically lax Indian planning and work ethic meant that the city has been denied this chance. Despite the BCCI trying (not too convincingly, if I may say so) to get an extension for the work completion date, the ICC has refused to budge. Unlike with the CWG 2010, there isn’t to be a miracle at the Eden. Probably because the list of pending work is just too long.
While the result is sad for the cricket fans of Kolkata, it is a serious wake-up call for sports administrators in India – BCCI included. There never seems to be a plan and deadlines mean squat to any of these. It has always been known that the fans’ are at the bottom of the food chain for sport administrators in India but this sort of callous behaviour only re-emphasizes it.
Being from Pune, a city where cricket has had a sorry excuse of a ground for the last many years, I totally understand the frustration of fans. Often, Pune was left with the worst possible games in a tournament, if at all. As a fan, it’s a task to watch the game at the stadium. Hopefully, with the new stadium coming up just outside the city, this may change.
For Kolkata, however, this was a chance that was available “now”. And it has been mucked up. Typically by administrators.