Sourav Ganguly’s debut as the face of one of India’s premier state associations couldn’t have got off to a worse start as rain played spoilsport. The match was supposed to start at 7pm, but was held up by more than two hours at the Eden Gardens before it was called off at 9.30pm.
This being a dead rubber against opponents on top of their game, the hold-up didn’t seem to cause much concern among the India players but it definitely cast a shadow on the stadium’s ability to deal with such situations, especially when it is scheduled to host the World T20 final on April 3, when Norwesters are common there.
It is not as if the Eden Gardens ground staff was caught off-guard. Rain had been forecast but apparently the outfield wasn’t covered when the first shower hit the city soon after noon. By the time covers were pulled out to stop a small spell of drizzle around 3pm, parts of the outfield had already become soggy.
Three rounds of inspection, one hour apart, didn’t convince the umpires that the ground was fit enough to host even a five-over per side game. This despite the best efforts of the ground staff to cover the damp areas with saw dust and sand. Three super-soppers were also deployed, under the supervision of Ganguly, who is the president-designate of the Bengal association. The inspections only delayed the inevitable.
This isn’t the first time Eden Gardens has faced such ignominy. It was the only venue where an IPL match was washed out last season. Two years ago in October, four days of a Ranji Trophy tie between Bengal and Baroda had to be abandoned after just one day of heavy rain.
The sun was beating down on the ground for the last two days of that match but still it wasn’t good enough for Eden, even a warm-up match of West Indies went ahead without a glitch around 10 km away. Last year, the final day of a Ranji Trophy tie between Bengal and Mumbai was abandoned due to a wet outfield, robbing the visitors of an outright win.
The problem lies in the high clay composition of the Eden Gardens that doesn’t allow water to seep through quickly. Proximity to the Hooghly river should have only expedited the process of increasing the sand content but somehow the CAB officials concerned could never kickstart the makeover process that can take up to two weeks to complete.