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Brian Lara’s wish denied: No Sachin Tendulkar stand at his stadium in Trinidad

The almost complete Brian Lara Cricket Academy stadium was conceived to end the monopoly of Queen’s Park Oval as the premier venue for the sport in Port of Spain

india vs west indies 2017 Updated: Jun 25, 2017 23:49 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Port of Spain
Brian Lara,Sachin Tendulkar,Brian Lara Stadium
Sachin Tendulkar (L) and Brian Lara are known to be close friends.(AFP/Getty Images)

The Queen’s Park Oval lies in the heart of the city, easily approachable for the residents of the capital city.

Come January next year, cricket action could shift to Tarouba, a small village 50-odd kilometres down south from the Oval, which is basically a swathe of farmlands with just the Brian Lara Cricket Academy stadium standing as a lone piece of concrete.

It is the most controversial sporting structure in the island – having taken well over a decade and 1.1 billion Trinidad dollars to get completed. Once ready, the ruling government, which planned and executed the project, hopes to end the monopoly of the private Queen’s Park Cricket Club, which owns the Oval and charges $ 40,000 per day during a cricket match.

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Trinidad’s Kotla

As of now, the stadium which looks state-of-the-art as well as Spartan, is struggling with leakages. The builders are trying to plug them.

If anything, the time taken and the controversy surrounding it reminds one of Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA)’s Ferozeshah Kotla.

“The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) matches are going to be hosted here and the first big match here would be the CPL final,” says our guide, an Indian-origin man working for UDeCOTT, the Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago, which is building the stadium.

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No Sachin stand

The UDeCOTT will use CPL as a test event and then hand the stadium over to the government in January next year. The initial cost was about 250 million Trinidad dollars but it shot up to 1.1 billion, thanks to alleged corruption and delay caused by differences among political parties.

While this was the brainchild of Afro-Trinidadian People’s National Movement (PNM) party, which wanted to cut Queen’s Park Cricket Club down to size, the project got stuck in a limbo when the Indo-Trinidadian party United National Congress (UNC) came to power in 2011. Quite surprisingly, the mostly Indian-origin UNC, which was always against the project, objected to Brian Lara’s suggestion of having a stand named to honour Sachin Tendulkar.

In fact, when the UNC was in power from 2011 to 2016, the there was no progress even though it was on the verge of completion.

The confusion has left the stadium with defects and certain things which apparently don’t comply to international standards, like the size of the press box.

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Tendulkar was expected to appear for official inauguration on May 12 this year but he didn’t make it, leading to a lot of ‘Bakanal’ (Trinidadian for confusion, originating from Latin ‘Bacchus’).

The president of Trinidad and Tobago board, Azim Bassarath, had gone on record saying, “India have so many stadia and I don’t know any of them have stands named after any of our West Indian greats so why must we name a stand after Tendulkar. I thought there would be stands named after Ian Bishop, or Larry Gomes or Gus Logie. Not Tendulkar.”

Lara was left red-faced and defended Tendullkar’s absence by blaming confusion over change of dates for inauguration.

The new Stadium, according to Bassarath, will help in promotion of cricket in south Trinidad where they have poor facilities. Deep south Trinidad is dominated by Afro-Trinidadians. However, the Tarouba lies in Central Trinidad which is dominated by Indians. So, there’s some ‘Bakanal’ there.

First Published: Jun 25, 2017 23:41 IST