India gives World Cup stadium to WI

Shekhawat has dedicated a 20,000-capacity stadium for hosting World Cup 2007, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2006 20:21 IST

Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat dedicated the Indian-built, 20000-capacity stadium to Guyana for hosting the 2007 Cricket World Cup with a wish.

"India and West Indies should be able to reach the finals," he said to the thunderous beat of Guyanese drums, and spectacular folk dances from Rajasthan and Gujarat by the Guyanese.

As the Vice-President put it, "We, in India, would certainly feel a special sense of pleasure and bonding when we watch the World Cup matches played in the stadium. I will be all the more happy if India and West Indies were to meet in the finals."

Shekhawat added a line to convey that Indian political leaders, like the rest of Indians, love cricket. "I am not a cricketer myself but I follow cricket avidly. In my long innings in public life, I have always played with a straight bat on front foot to secure maximum runs in the account of the welfare of the poor and the deprived."

The Providence Stadium in Guyana will be the largest stadium in Guyana. The entire complex will include a large multiplex, hotels, a river-view resort and a theme park.

Buddy's Hotel will be located adjacent to the stadium, and it will have many luxurious guest rooms. The venue will succeed the old Bourda ground, which has played host to 29 Tests dating back to 1930 and 10 one-day internationals.

Guyana is scheduled to host six matches in the Super Eight stage, which decide who makes the semi-finals. Conveying his country’s gratitude, Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo said the India-gifted stadium would prevent his country from losing the status to host matches as the old wooden stand stadium at Bourda has been declared unfit by the ICC.

Cash-starved Guyana hopes to make cricket and other sporting events money earners, along with eco-tourism. “We look at the stadium as a growth phenomenon for the hospitality section – one that will bring tourism and development all around. The other area is IT for which India is doing much for us,” Jagdeo said.

As in the rest of the Commonwealth, Caribbean cricket is a national passion. More so in Guyana that has contributed more than its fair share of fine players in the West Indies side, including three captains, one of whom, Clive Lloyd, holds the record as the most successful captain in cricket history.

Other notable Guyanese cricketers include Rohan Kanhai, Lance Gibbs, Roy Fredericks, Alvin Kallicharan, Basil Butcher, Joe Solomon and Colin Croft. More recently, Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and the young Reon King have made their mark.

Players come from all parts of the country but the game has been especially popular in Berbice, which turns out cricketers the way Brazil turns out footballers, and wins most of the national titles.

The first cricket match between colonies in the West Indies was played in 1865, but the game had been played in the Caribbean for almost half a century by then.

By 1900, a triangular series was being held between Demerara, Barbados, and Trinidad, but transport between the islands remained the major obstacle to expansion and it wasn't until after the Second World War when air transport became readily available that Jamaica began to play regular games against other islands.

Earlier, Shekhawat also inaugurated a Rabindranath Tagore Resource Centre that will help research in Indian culture and tradition in Guyana, which is home to over 325,000 ethnic Indians. Most of them are descendants of Indians who had come to Georgetown in the 19th and early 20th centuries to work as indentured labour in sugarcane plantations.

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First Published: Nov 09, 2006 20:21 IST