ICC Team Inspects Eden Facilities, Faces Black Flag Protests

Kolkata, Feb 7 (IANS): A group of cricket lovers waved black flags to protest the International Cricket Council (ICC) ''robbing'' the Eden Gardens of the India-England match, as a three-member team of the game's apex body inspected the ground's facilities Monday to see if it was fit to host the remaining three World Cup matches next month. 

"We have shown them all the facilities. They have seen the whole ground," Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) joint secretary Biswarup Dey told newspersons after the team's three-hour inspection.

Asked whether the ICC delegation was satisfied, Dey avoided a direct reply. "i cannot say that because they have not said so far," he said.

The ICC team arrived around 9.50 a.m. and went around the ground, the two new galleries, the dressing rooms, some corporate boxes, and other parts of the premises. CAB sources said the team spent a lot of time inspecting the sight screens.

As the ICC team was making a tour of the Eden Gardens, about 50 cricket lovers waved black flags, accusing the ICC of having taken away the Feb 27 match between India and England fromthe Eden. This, they alleged, was done at the behest of ICC president Sharad Pawar who has had a long-standing rivalry with CAB chief Jagmohan Dalmiya in Indian cricket board politics.

"ICC go back. Down Down, ICC. They took the unfair decision to please their boss Pawar," said a youth, who was part of the demonstration orgnanised under the banner of the Maidan Sports Lovers' Association.

A section of CAB officials, however, expressed apprehension that the uncovered roof on the two newly built galleries could still be a bone of contention with the ICC late last month asking the local association to complete the roof construction before the venue can be given clearance for the three games. The CAB has already told the ICC that it was not possible to complete the roof.

As per a timeline given by the ICC, part of the work has to be completed by Monday, some more part by Feb 14 and the entire work schedule by Feb 22.The ICC Jan 27 ruled the Eden Gardens unsuitable for the Feb 27 tie following an adverse report form its inspection team.

Following an appeal from CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya, Board of Control for Cricket in India chief Shashank Manohar requested ICC to consider the demand, but the international body turned it down.

The Eden Gardens is now slated to host South Africa vs. Ireland (March 15), the Netherlands vs. Ireland (March 18), and Zimbabwe vs. Kenya (March 20). The Feb 27 India-England match has been shifted to Bangalore.  


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