Kolkata’s Eden Gardens has been ruled out as a venue for hosting the ICC Cricket World Cup match between India and England on February 27 following a report by the venue inspection team.
Following the inspection tour, the three Sri Lanka venues – Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele – as well as Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai which will stage the World Cup final on April 2, have been approved subject to minor finishing work being completed within specified time frames not exceeding 14 days, according to a statement issued by the ICC (International Cricket Council) from Dubai.
The expert report, however, determined that Eden Gardens in Kolkata would not be ready within an acceptable time frame to host the India v England ICC Cricket World Cup match on 27 February.
“Of particular concern was the fact that host venue obligations in relation to cricket operations, media, broadcast and sponsorship facilities were not finalised and/or confirmed by the venue,” it said.
The venue inspection team which included the Tournament Director Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, members of the Central Organising Committe (COC) and the ICC, submitted its report on Thursday on the readiness of five outstanding venues scheduled to host matches in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
The ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) of the decision and, as host, the BCCI will now consider an alternate venue for approval by the ICC.
“All venues had ample time in which to prepare for World Cup matches. We had been understanding and had provided extensions to the deadline dates but unfortunately we are now at a point where we must carefully manage our risks,” said Lorgat.
“The COC had provided venues with a deadline of 30 November 2010 to complete all construction work and then to be match-ready by 31 December 2010. An extension was granted by the ICC for five venues, which were again inspected over the past week. Sadly, Eden Gardens in Kolkata was unable to meet the final deadline date of 25 January 2011,” he said.
“Regrettably, Eden Gardens has not made sufficient progress to justify the level of confidence required to confirm that the venue would be ready in good time. This was no easy decision to take and while it is most unfortunate, it is absolutely necessary,” said Lorgat.
The inspection team drew on the knowledge and experience of some of the leading experts in the field of stadium and ground preparation and the view was that Eden Gardens would not be ready by February 27.
The ICC has also recognised the challenge of relocating a scheduled match.
“We will work with the new venue, the tour operators and the ticket distributors to manage the logistical challenges that will surely arise,” Tournament Director Shetty said.
The Cricket Association of Bengal is having an emergency meeting to discuss the development.
Kolkata was to host three other matches in the World Cup, but the status of those games is still unclear.
“At this stage no decision has been taken on those matches,” an ICC spokesperson said.
The news of switching the match from Kolkata comes just two days after the tournament director, Ratnakar Shetty, waved away worries over readiness of World Cup venues. Media personnel had been barred from a recent inspection of Eden Gardens.
The venue, one of the largest cricket stadiums in the world, has hosted some of the highest-profile matches of the previous two World Cups held in the subcontinent including the final in 1987 and the semifinal in 1996. No international matches have been held in Kolkata since the Test between India and South Africa in February as the stadium was being renovated.
The World Cup, co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, begins on February 19 after a week of warm-up games.