Mirpur better than Eden Gardens, but Chennai is excellent, say scribes
Dhaka, March 19 (IANS) One is an age-old cricketing venue having staged a Test match way back in 1934 besides the World Cup final 24 years back. The other is a child in comparison, and hosted its first international match only in December 2006. But the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata seems to have lost out to the spanking new Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium (SBNCS) here in terms of facilities -- going by the assessment of journalists.
Of the eight Indian venues, the one which has been earning the maximum accolades from foreign mediapersons is the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium, at Chepauk, in Chennai.
The SBNCS, nestled at Mirpur in suburban Dhaka, was originally a football venue in the 1980s. Named after one of the renowned leaders of Bangladesh as also pre-independence India - A.K. Fazlul Haque - the stadium was formally taken over by the Bangladesh Cricket Board in 2004 and two years later it held its maiden ODI between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Aesthetically built, the 25,000-seat stadium gives a coliseum like feeling, and has one of the finest drainage systems.
'As the outfield is sand based, and the water goes straight down, we can quickly resume play even if there are heavy showers,' said Shafiqur Rahman Munna, BCB ground and pitches committee chairman.
Another noteworthy feature is the media block, which gives the impression of a spaceship suspended in air.
South African journalist Telford Vice, who has been following the South African team for a publication Business Day, said he was impressed with the 'great view' from the media box.
Vice, however, found the media box at the Eden Gardens cramped. 'You cannot move around freely. In comparison there is more space here,' said Vice, earlier associated with Reuters and BBC.
He said while Mirpur made things easier for journos, fighting the pressure of various deadlines and tremendous workload, by installing a lift covering the entire media block, in Eden Gardens reaching the media box meant a stiff climb of five floors. 'I am not complaining about that, but then if there are modern arrangements, things do become smooth.'
Another South African journalist, not wishing to be named, said: 'Before coming to Bangladesh, I had doubts in my mind about the facilities. But after coming here, I am pleasantly shocked. Everything is so neat and clean, there are smiling volunteers all round to attend to your little problems.'
'In contrast, at Eden Gardens, we could see from the media box itself the dirt in one of the stands diagonally opposite us. But here, you can daily see how much care they are taking to clear all rubbish and keep things clean,' he said.
'I feel sorry to say, but I think after all the controversies and loss of a big match, they should have done more to make things better at the Eden,' he said.
However, Vice was all praise for Chennai.
'I really liked the facilities in Chennai. It was excellent. Nagpur was also very good.
'The media box in Chennai is so large and spacious. It is a herculean effort for any ground to match it,' said another South African journalist.
Mohali, however, did not catch Vice's fancy. 'The window at the media box is too small and it is difficult to have a full view,' he said.
But it is the SBNCS, Mirpur, which has bowled them over. 'The facilities here are comparable to the best in any part of the world,' Vice signed off.