India, Australia set for exciting T20 tie
Paradox flavours the first Twenty20 international on Indian soil on Saturday. The format is young and unorthodox. The venue, the Cricket Club of India's Brabourne stadium, is a bastion of tradition.
Cricket has changed beyond recognition. Cricketers wear coloured clothes, play with a white ball and shield their eyes with sunglasses. The Brabourne, brought into the world in December 1937, has undergone repairs and facelifts. But generally it has retained its vintage look.
"As a club member and as an ex-president, I feel great," said former India batsman Madhav Apte. "To be quite honest I had reservations about Twenty20. But since the World T20, I'm converted. Besides, it's another first for the Brabourne." Boria Majumdar, author of Indian Cricket, An Illustrated History, said, "It's a special moment, a blending of the traditional and the modern." The historian and writer Vasant Raiji said that people had to move with the times.
"The older generation might not like it, but things change," said Raiji. "The Pentangulars, for example, was a great event. But it was played along communal lines and hence outlived its usefulness after independence. So it had to go. Test cricket is still the real cricket, but you have to give people what they want." Apte added, "You cannot live in the past. This is the new format, this is a great ground, so from the spectators' point of view, it's wonderful. I hope all cricket comes back to the Brabourne now." Apte was referring to the CCI's exile from Test cricket since 1975, when the Wankhede Stadium was built.
Nonetheless, the Brabourne has been the stage for some landmark moments in Indian cricket. A Cricket Club of India side faced Lord Tennyson's team in the first match at the ground. It also hosted the Pentangular battles and saw the Vijay Hazare and Vijay Merchant scale heights of sporting rivalry.
The ground has only hosted seventeen Tests, the last in 1973.
Hoping for an incident-free tie
PTI adds: Australian captain Ricky Ponting hoped that cricket would take centrestage and prevent the crowd from indulging in racist taunts at teammate Andrew Symonds during the match. "I have been reading a lot of things in the papers, on the need for the people of Mumbai to ease up on some of the stuff (taunts). All we can do is to play and put on our best show and hopefully the fans will enjoy it.