Kolkata: In a big jolt to the Kolkata cricket fans, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Thursday ruled out the city for the India-England match scheduled for February 27 at the Eden Gardens.
A venue inspection team, which included the Tournament Director, members of the Central Organising Committe (COC) and the ICC, on Thursday reported on the readiness of five under-construction venues to host matches in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
Following the inspection tour, the three Sri Lanka venues – Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele – as well as Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai have been approved subject to minor finishing work being completed within specified time frame not exceeding 14 days.
The expert report, however, determined that Eden Gardens in Kolkata would not be ready within an acceptable time frame to host the India vs England ICC Cricket World Cup match on 27 February.
“All venues had ample time in which to prepare for world cup matches. We had been understanding and had provided extensions to the deadline dates but unfortunately we are now at a point where we must carefully manage our risks,” the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the ICC, Haroon Lorgat, said in a press release.
“The COC had provided venues with a deadline of 30 November 2010 to complete all construction work and then to be match-ready by 31 December 2010. An extension was granted by the ICC for five venues, which were again inspected over the past week. Sadly, Eden Gardens in Kolkata was unable to meet the final deadline date of 25 January 2011,” Lorgat added.
“Regrettably, Eden Gardens has not made sufficient progress to justify the level of confidence required to confirm that the venue would be ready in good time. This was no easy decision to take and while it is most unfortunate, it is absolutely necessary,” Lorgat said.
As mentioned by the ICC, the Eden was ruled out as could not fulfill the host venue obligations in relation to cricket operations, media, broadcast and sponsorship facilities.
Lorgat informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) of the decision and, as host, the BCCI will now consider an alternate venue for approval by the ICC.
The ICC has also recognised the challenge of relocating a scheduled match.
Tournament Director Prof. Ratnakar Shetty said: “We will work with the new venue, the tour operators and the ticket distributors to manage the logistical challenges that will surely arise.”
The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) secretary Biswaroop Dey, however, slammed ICC’s decision.
He said, “It’s not right to inform media before even telling us,” adding that the “venue would have been ready by January 31, life goes on.”
BCCI vice president Rajiv Shukla, when approached by CNN-IBN, said it’s wrong to blame the BCCI for ICC’s decision and put the onus on state bodies.
“You cannot blame the entire BCCI… There is no shortage of venues. Even abroad such problems occur.
“It is up to ICC to take a decision. Their team visited Kolkata and they found it unfit. BCCI goes by assurances given by the state units,” said Shukla.
He was pretty optimistic about decision on the new venue coming soon.
“We will be looking for a new venue. Decision on new venue will be taken in a day or two. We have got enough venues to host the World Cup,” he informed.
He also expressed disappointment on Kolkata not being able to make it for the India-England game.
“Kolkata is a very important venue for us. We wanted the World Cup match there. State association also wanted the match but they simply could not do this.”