Monday, December 28, 2009

Shame on the BCCI for ostracising Eden

(Also in Bengali daily Ek Din)
So finally the BCCI had to slot a one-day match at the Eden Gardens!

After choosing to ignore the greatest cricket stadium in the world for almost three years and denying the people of Kolkata their favourite source of joy. After proving that more than anything else, the only thing that the BCCI really cares for is money and power. Cricket doesn’t matter. And cricket fans matter even less.

This attitude of the BCCI was very much in evidence in the run-up to the recent Rajasthan Cricket Association elections. Lalit Modi’s biggest poll plank was ‘matches for Jaipur’. It was simple. Modi told people that if he was voted to power, the BCCI would allot matches to Jaipur. Modi wasn’t even trying to hide the truth.

This means that only associations that vote for the Sharad Pawar-N Srinivasan-Shashank Manohar regime will get big international matches. If Jagmohan Dalmiya is the boss of the Cricket Association of Bengal, the Eden Gardens will fall off the map. How much more brazen can you get!

This, in fact, is completely symptomatic of the present BCCI regime. In every sense. They have converted the BCCI into their own little playground. Like kids. The para bully, who picks on the weaklings.

Thankfully, we did finally get a one-dayer in Kolkata. Interestingly, between the same teams that played the last game I saw at the Eden Gardens as a fan. From the time that I was eight, I saw every single international game at the Eden Gardens. As well as a number of domestic matches. I saw every single day of every single Test match, starting from the West Indies tour Test in 1983; all the way to the 1996 World Cup semi-final between India and Sri Lanka.

That match left such a horrid taste in the mouth for me that I refused to go to the Eden Gardens after that – except to report on the 2001 India-Australia Test match; a match that again reaffirmed my belief in the Eden Gardens; a match that told me that the best cricket is always played at the Eden. Like the Hero Cup semi-final and final. Like all the brilliant centuries Mohammad Azharuddin scored – I was there for each of them. Like when Saleem Malik smashed the Indians for 72 from 36 balls to win the one-dayer in 1987.

Nothing beats the experience of a top-class competition at the Eden Gardens. My favourite ground. The favourite ground for everyone who has been part of the experience. An experience that is being denied to the current generation by the dastardly BCCI top brass.