Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The fall of the ‘Garden Of Eden’


Excerpts from the poem-The Garden of Eden by Debra L. Looney

Ms. Debra would have had no inkling while penning this poem; about the stark similarities in her lines and the current state of affairs of the once magnificent ground by the name of Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The ground, famous for many a memorable incidents and matches; has been dealt a body blow last week when the ICC decided to shift the upcoming World Cup match between India and England, scheduled to be held at Kolkata on Feb. 27th, from the venue due to lack of preparedness in the renovation work which in their words is ‘alarmingly’ behind schedule.The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) President Jagmohan Dalmiya tried with all his might to pull his political muscle behind the issue, to curb this major embarrassment caused to his team, and more importantly to the city and perhaps the whole nation at large. At the time of writing, the chances of the ICC’s sympathy on this issue is not only minimal, it’s already been rejected, with Haroon Lorgat’s email to BCCI clearly stating that there is absolutely no way for the decision to be reconditioned. Mr. Dalmiya , now should use his ‘might’ in ensuring that the remaining three matches stays with the Eden, because if word is to be believed there is a reasonable chance of those too being taken off. Thus, in its third edition in Asia, the World Cup won’t see a match featuring India at the Eden Gardens for the first time. It’s hardly any wonder then that the whole nation is up in arms against the CAB for bringing the entire nation to shame in front of the cricketing world, and depriving the lovers of the game and the players themselves of a chance to savour the magic of arguably the best arenas in the sports world today.

So who is to take the blame? The BCCI, for failing to foresee the inevitable , given the track record of the CAB in the past few years(and for refusing to learn from last year’s Common Wealth Games debacle) or the CAB themselves for floundering yet again in managing issues in a professional manner. Clearly both the cricketing bodies have to shoulder the blame, with the CAB taking the larger ‘share’ for obvious reasons. What is appalling, given the current situation of the stadia, is the fact that the schedule for the match in question was declared years ago; and yet the CAB couldn’t bring it upon them to make appropriate arrangements to make the ground match ready on time. The ICC team, which inspected the ground found it to be inappropriate for an international match in quite a few departments, from the unfinished bucket chairs, to the roofing, paintings, water facilities or even the media and corporate boxes. So, clearly they didn’t see any reason to extend their decision; for what couldn’t be done in years will most certainly not be done in a week. But obviously our administrators fail to recognize that this is an international body they are dealing with and not their own political counterparts whom they can manipulate with their low-brow promises.What further fueled their decision was what many believe the arrogance with which the CAB dealt with the ICC's officials, rubbishing their claims of increasing the height of the side screen or of moving the radio commentator's box.Perhaps, even more intriguing if not surprising is the fact that the man at the helm of the affair, Jagmohan Dalmiya, once the czar of Indian cricket administration, let all this happen under his nose despite the fact that he is not new to these challenges, as he had quite efficiently led his team in organizing the 1987 and 1996 World Cups, successfully held in the sub-continent. So, it is indeed is quite unusual to see how the man, who once was the ICC chief, failed to get the stadium ready on time.

For people who have been following cricket closely in the past few years though, this news wasn’t entirely shocking. For all its grandeur, and momentous occasions, the Eden Gardens has been slipping quite drastically in terms of competence, i.e. failing to match the standards of an international like venue. As if the repugnant political power play emanating from the greed ,to take the prime position in the management wasn’t enough, the continuous technical failures, (the infamous ‘floodlight incidents’ in IPL 2008 and at an India –Sri Lanka match in 2009 where one of the towers stopped functioning) took further sheen off the stadium. However, those were technical glitches and can be repaired, but the cause for this embarrassment cannot be mended, as it stems from a deep rot of corruption, mismanagement and inefficiency inherent perhaps in the way this city functions today.
The biggest loser in this fiasco is certainly the fan himself. The dedicated fan, who waits hours under the sun to catch their favourite players in action, and who has a bag of tales to tell associated with their memories at the Eden. Famous the world over for the staunch support it generates from its crazy and perhaps irrational fans, the Eden is also known for uplifting the sagging morale of its team when in dire situations, and has now made its place firmly in cricketing folklore primarily because of all the famous incidents it has played out over the years. Be it the sporting miracles like Laxman’s 281,(or Harbhajan's hat-trick in the same match) or booing the hell out of Wasim Akram for ‘cheating’ to get Tendulkar out. The latter incident resulted in the game being played in front of an empty stadium. So, clearly the players too, as they have already started stating, would rue the chance of playing in front of a 60,000 strong crowd or of simply missing the magnificence of the arena. In all logical sense too, the fans’ protests seems well reasoned. Can a World Cup be held in England and Lord’s doesn’t feature in it?? Won’t the Australians cry foul if the MCG is denied to host a World event?? The answer is quite simple.

While we comprehend this loss, cries of ‘injustice’ is already ringing out from some corners of the city, given the fact that extension was given to the Wankhade for renewal work till 7th Feb and not to the Eden Gardens. Some wise men, would probably find a conspiracy theory behind this. Its ‘politics’, they will say. In other words the whole world is conspiring against us to take away our “glory”. If at all we can learn from this situation, it is to take up responsibility, for the colossal failure. Instead of finding reasons to blame and shrug off our faults, we should look inside. Excuses won’t help us this time; fact is Kolkata’s image has yet again taken a beating in front of the whole world. There is no running away from it, finding a political scenario in it will definitely not help our cause. Whether we get the match or not, is not the question anymore, the damage has already been inflicted on our pride (including all the over-inflated ones too). There used to be a time when players, who in spite of their love for the venue, would fear the backlash if they lost a game, the India -Sri Lanka '96 semi-final being a case in point, where the crowd broke seats and burnt 'mashaal' to convey their rage. Will the city people come out again in protests with their 'mashaal' in hand ?? Wont it serve better purpose to do it now when the city's image is being tainted, rather in sporting losses which can be overcome shortly?? I don't seek to instigate a revolution, all I wanted was some pride restored, but I can't find any silver lining in the dark clouds hovering above us. As a Kolkatan, it is time perhaps to hang our heads in shame. I can’t give any wise words on how to redeem this situation, only the poetic lines from Ms. Debra Looney’s masterpiece comes back to mind. WE ALL SHOULD HAVE TAKEN BETTER CARE OF THE GARDENS “SOUL” UPKEEP...Indeed it is the “SOUL” we have lost!!


  1. 100% agree bhawesh...very well written bhai tu toh bahut achcha likhne laga bei jaise paper mein chapta hai waise,,,jio jald hi tarikki karega or apne iss guru ko mat bhoolna bhai

  2. Hmm,thanks a lot,.aur .nahi bhulunga bhai..par aur bhi accha lagega agar issue ko leke zra discussi kare to..