Eden Gardens loses India vs England WC game, Wankhede cleared

New Delhi/Kolkata, Jan 27 (PTI) In a major embarrassmentfor co-hosts India, the International Cricket Council todayruled out the historic Eden Gardens as the venue for the keyWorld Cup match between India and England after the stadiumfailed to meet the deadline for completion of renovation.

The February 27 match will now be held at another venueyet to be decided.

"A venue inspection team which included the TournamentDirector, members of the Central Organising Committee (COC)and the ICC, today reported on the readiness of fiveoutstanding venues scheduled to host matches in the ICCCricket World Cup 2011," the ICC said in a statement.

"Following the inspection tour, the three Sri Lankavenues � Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele � as well as theWankhede Stadium in Mumbai have been approved subject to minorfinishing work being completed within specified time framesnot exceeding 14 days. The expert report, however, determinedthat Eden Gardens in Kolkata would not be ready within anacceptable time frame to host the India v England ICC CricketWorld Cup match on 27 February," it added.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) reacted angrilyto the ICC''s decision and insisted that the Eden would havebeen ready in time for the match.

"We were confident of hosting the match. There is noquestion of being behind schedule. Everything is built up. Theentire stadium is renovated," CAB Joint Secretary Biswarup Deysaid.

"We have not received any communication from the ICC> Idon''t know why they have taken the decision," a peeved Deyadded.

Specifying the reasons for taking away the match fromEden, the ICC said, "Of particular concern was the fact thathost venue obligations in relation to cricket operations,media, broadcast and sponsorship facilities were not finalisedand/or confirmed by the venue."

The ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat has conveyed thedecision to the BCCI and, "as host, the BCCI will now consideran 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 providedextensions to the deadline dates but unfortunately we are nowat a point where we must carefully manage our risks," Lorgatsaid.

"The COC had provided venues with a deadline of 30November 2010 to complete all construction work and then to bematch-ready by 31 December 2010. An extension was granted bythe ICC for five venues, which were again inspected over thepast week. Sadly, Eden Gardens in Kolkata was unable to meetthe final deadline date of 25 January 2011," he added.

Lorgat said Eden did not measure up to the ICC standards.

"Regrettably, Eden Gardens has not made sufficientprogress to justify the level of confidence required toconfirm that the venue would be ready in good time. This wasno easy decision to take and while it is most unfortunate, itis absolutely necessary," said Lorgat.

The inspection team drew on the knowledge and experienceof some of the leading experts in the field of stadium andground preparation and the view was that Eden Gardens wouldnot be ready.

Tournament Director Prof. Ratnakar Shetty said, "We willwork with the new venue, the tour operators and the ticketdistributors to manage the logistical challenges that willsurely arise."

The ICC''s decision will come as a huge disappointment forthe cricket-crazy fans of Kolkata as the India-England hadgenerated high interest and many of the tickets were alreadysold online.

The India-England clash was to be the only matchfeaturing the co-hosts at the venue and the other scheduledclashes mostly feature minnows.

South Africa-Ireland (March 15), Netherlands-Ireland(March 18) and Zimbabwe-Kenya (March 20) are the other gamesscheduled at the venue.

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