India Uncut

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Saturday, March 19, 2005

That notional Eden Gardens

I have never been to Eden Gardens before this trip, and I was looking forward to seeing it. I had heard so much about this place: the massive arena, the 100,000 screaming people, the amazing ambience. But what an underwhelming experience it turned out to be.

When I first entered the stadium the day before the Test, I was astonished at how much smaller the stands were than in my imagination. It looks more substantial from the press box, which is located at the highest and furthest end of the ground, but still short of what I'd expected. And the crowds haven't poured in.

Of the seats that I can see from here two-thirds are unoccupied. (It might go up as the day goes on, but will not go below half.) Locals tell me that this is because of the examination season, but that surely can't account for all of it. After all, there wouldn't be so many kids in the stadium at normal times, would there?

For an association with so much money, Bengal's cricket board maintains this stadium really badly. It is spectator-unfriendly and shockingly filthy. It is a massive contrast to Mohali, where the first Test was, and Bangalore, where the next Test will be held. And it lends weight to a point IS Bindra made when I chatted with him in Mohali.

I asked him, pointedly, on what he felt about Jagmohan Dalmiya being given credit for bringing money into Indian cricket and being a good administrator. Without criticising Dalmiya, he made two points: one, Mohali is a far better ground for spectators, players and the press than any other in the country; two, it also makes more money than any other association. The subtext of that was: you tell me who's the better administrator.

Looking at the real Eden Gardens, so disappointing when compared to my cherished notional Eden Gardens, I am in no doubt about the answer to that question.
amit varma, 9:41 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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