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Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Chhetri support football in Kochi cricket venue row

Kerala Cricket Association’s plans to dig up the Kochi pitch and try and make it ready for hosting India-West Indies One-Day International cricket match hasn’t gone down well with fans and a few sportspersons. Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Chhetri have voiced their concern on the issue

cricket Updated: Mar 21, 2018 13:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Sachin Tendulkar,Sunil Chhetri,Kerala Cricket Association
Sachin Tendulkar says Thiruvananthapuram stadium should be used for India-West Indies One-Day International and not the Kochi field.(PTI)

Sachin Tendulkar has urged authorities concerned at the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) to opt for Thiruvananthapuram if they wish to host the India-West Indies One-Day International, thus, leaving the pitch at Kochi unharmed, which otherwise will have to be dug up.

The move of the association has come under immense criticism from fans across the country and sportsmen from several disciplines. The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi was one of the Fifa under-17 World Cup venues and had been revamped accordingly. The match is slated to take place on November 1, thus providing organisers with a fair amount of time to re-lay the pitch.

READ | KCA’s plans to host India-West Indies ODI at Kochi draw ire from footballers, politicians

“Worried about the potential damage to the FIFA approved World class Football turf in Kochi. Urge the KCA to take the right decision where cricket (Thiruvananthapuram) and Football (Kochi) can happily co-exist”, Tendulkar tweeted, before adding: “Urged Shri. Vinod Rai who has promised to look into the matter. Hoping that neither the cricket nor the football fans are disappointed. @BCCI @KCAcricket”.

Vinod Rai is the chief of the Committee of Administrators, who had been appointed by the Supreme Court to oversee the functioning of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Iain Hume, a forward of the Kerala Blasters franchise, took to Instagram to vent out his frustration.

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“So having read that there’s a possibility of a ODI Cricket Match planning to be played in JLN Stadium in Kochi, I have to say this....I was here for the 1st season of @indiansuperleague when they had 6-8 weeks to transform our field from a Cricket ground to a Football ground. They made great strides in doing so, but it was still some way off being an established field for top level football. The amount of time and money that has been spent since then, to get the pitch to the standard it is now for the U-17 @fifaworldcup and @indiansuperleague 4, it would be a travesty to tear it up for a one off cricket match! I understand the love of cricket in not just Kerala, but all of India, and I don’t want to disrespect anyone for that. But there’s a ground in Trivandrum that is Cricket specific, so why for the sake of one match, rip up a pitch that has taken years to get to the standard as one of the best in the country? Question..... Would they tear up Eden Gardens to stage a one off football match?”

The Greenfield Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram has hosted just one game in history — a T20I against New Zealand in 2016. India international CK Vineeth, too, criticised the move.

“Over the course of this week, I have read various reports that the turf at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium will be dug up to help facilitate the ODI cricket match between India and West Indies. For many different reasons, I feel this is wrong. In an interview I gave to a friend a few years ago, I spoke of how in my childhood, I played football on a ground where there were three or four cricket matches happening at the same time. I would dribble past a defender, and then maybe a batsman before going towards goal. I believe that for sport to co-exist, it is important that they do not stop each other from growing. As a nation, we are fighting for success and to become better on so many fronts. A lot of time, effort and money has gone into the football pitch at the JN Stadium. This picture was clicked two years ago, at a time when over a hundred workers came in for days on end. I have never met any of them, and could never thank them for what they continue to do, but I must implore the authorities that their work is not thrown away. The stadium in Kochi is one of only six in India that are approved by FIFA, a certification that will take immense effort and countless permissions to obtain again. When India has always been known for being a ‘cricket crazy’ nation, is it really necessary to dig up a football pitch to play a cricket match? #SaveKochiTurf?”

Among other noted personalities to cricitise the move were Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, writer NS Madhavan and Sunil Chhetri. “We football fans in India have small joys and reasons to be happy about. A proper football pitch is one of them. Let’s not snatch that away, even if it’s for a little while.#SaveKochiTurf”, Chhetri wrote on his official Twitter handle.

First Published: Mar 21, 2018 13:50 IST