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How bureaucratic bungling failed Eden Gardens

Trevor Chesterfield

Updated: February 2, 2011, 5:12 PM IST
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Opening batsman and former Test captain Marvan Atapattu once referred to bureaucratic bunglers as "Jokers led by a Muppet". At the time, he was talking about Sri Lanka's inept selection panel.

Transfer the "Jokers led by a Muppet" image to the current mandarins of the Cricket Association of Bengal and you have a similar hidebound bunch of middle-aged groupies. What they have managed to achieve is rob the residents of Kolkata, and the world-famed icon venue, Eden Gardens, of the chance to stage a major World Cup game.

It would have been thought, after the Commonwealth Games fiasco over venues and the chaotic bungling of the athletes accommodation, sports administrators would have learned. As can be seen they have not. It also serves CAB and the smug Board of Control for Cricket in India right for ignoring danger signals.

More surprising is that CAB is headed by Jagmohan Dalmiya, former head of the international body who was noted for his professional approach (although the term corruption and maleficent behaviour have been linked to his administration).

When the International Cricket Council inspection team, which includes the highly qualified and internationally respected Professor Eugene van Vuuren, told CAB and the buffoons parading under the title Central Organising Committee (of the World Cup 2011), that Eden Gardens was a "no go" to stage the game against England on February 27, they indulged in the type of thinking you get from fundamentalists.

Blaming the ICC for the Eden Gardens circus is typical of such obfuscation. Did the ICC appoint the COC11 to oversee the progress of the venues? No - they didn't. That is the other mob of groupies, the BCCI in Mumbai with head clown Ratnakar Shetty.

It needs to be pointed out that at no stage have the ICC appointed the local organising committee to run any World Cup. The first three in England were handled by the TCCB (Test and County Cricket Board). In 1992, Australia and New Zealand appointed a joint committee in 1991 to oversee the event.

Pilcom, the India-Dalmiya dominated cabal in 1996 was a BCCI organised body with inputs from Pakistan and Sri Lanka. England's ignominious running of the event in 1999 was by a group of nobodies headed by someone no one can remember.

In South Africa, it was Dr Aaron (Ali) Bacher, appointed by the then United Cricket Board not the ICC. The CWC07 was a West Indies affair, like England in 1999, highly forgettable, and tainted with the death of Bob Woolmer under suspicious circumstances.

So, Bhai, those BCCI and COC CWC11 admin geeks pointing fingers at ICC blaming them for pulling the plug on the Eden Gardens need to think again, along with their obsequious supporters. The inspection panel it seems, say sources, were concerned about Eden Gardens last November and the continuing chaos at Wankhede.

In Sri Lanka, the nepotism in the appointments of those heading the CWC11 secretariat is an added embarrassment, as those appointed have no experience of international administration.

Typically, transparency is a foreign word in such shadowy dysfunctional and insidious portals among those lacking administrative qualifications and are playing a game of distorted governance to suit themselves. It is not the way to run something as important or as large as staging a World Cup.

Who remembers the pitch fiasco at Feroz Shah Kotla in December 2009? It was when the game between India and Sri Lanka was abandoned because of the dangerous pitch conditions and those in charge of the venue showed a lack of professionalism. This is when the blame game was carried out. In the aftermath, it was seen who ran the game in New Delhi fits the Atapattu decree of maladministration because it is run by Jokers headed by a Muppet.

Those in Kolkata, in charge of Eden Gardens overseeing the refurbishing cannot say they were warned. There were inspections when the areas of concerns were pointed out in November. The list of what still had to be done (December 17), left those in the inspection team wondering why such work had not been carried out when they returned.

Did the CAB administrators expect to get away with such sloppy work ethics? How they could carry on their shabby building efforts, even on the morning of the game because it is Kolkata and Eden Gardens and the BCCI would support them. It makes you wonder if they realised the dangers of how the reputation of a world-class venue was being besmirched by such incompetent management.

The question of what kickbacks and corruption is involved at the venue, because of the buddy-buddy system in such an inglorious organisation as CAB, needs probing. They became too materialistic; losing sight of the deadlines and in doing so eschewed transparency. There is no rectitude and they sit without shame offering backslapping grins at the way they obfuscated simple facts through doublespeak.

Then, when the ICC stripped away the ugly façade, they exposed the venue's overall construction supervision as being as bad as the Kotla pitch and the Commonwealth Games fiascos. Instead of looking for answers to correct their bumbling, those backslappers suddenly began pointing fingers elsewhere, denying culpability.

Professor van Vuuren, the ICC venues consultant, knows more about stadium construction than those involved in this Kolkata disaster, as well was what is taking place at Wankhede. He designed the venue that is SuperSports Park, Centurion, in 1986/87.

A graduate from the school of engineering at Pretoria University (and a useful all-rounder in his playing days), his team's design at Centurion earned an award from Germany for a spectator friendly stadium facility. It can be imagined how unimpressed he was with what he saw at Eden Gardens, and the length of time needed to finish the work.

It is why Dalmiya's appeal for more time is as factitious and spurious as the pantomime following the inspection group's decision, to strip the venue of the February 27 game. To delay it and then have CAB admit to another failure would have been even more embarrassing.

While Indian Premier League games were being played during the early refurbishing efforts, the story put out is that it would not in anyway delay the redevelopment. The statement is that the work would be completed by November 30.

First Published: February 2, 2011, 5:12 PM IST

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