Sidharth Monga on India in Sri Lanka 2010 July 12, 2010

Modernity at the cost of intimacy?

The R Premadasa is a mess right now
16

The R Premadasa is a mess right now. It is being redone for the World Cup. I have never watched a cricket match here, but I don’t like what I see. Rather I don’t like what I foresee. It’s a massive construction site, all the stands have been brought down. There are giant machines, iron rods, bricks, cement, mud all over, and it’s an achievement to get to where the Indian nets are. Sooner than we realise it might even become a swank stadium. It might even have a spaceship press box, who knows?

It reminds me of the Wankhede Stadium. It perhaps looks similar to what Premadasa does now. Both the stadiums are being redone for the World Cup. Wankhede, too, will in all likelihood emerge an enviable cricket ground, but it will be far removed from my Wankhede. The Wankhede I knew gave me the best cricket-watching experience, during domestic matches that is.

Just outside the press box, I could sit, in the shade, take in the breeze from the Arabian Sea, right behind the bowler’s arm. That was not nearly the best part of it. Where I sat wasn’t too high: I could hear what the keeper shouts to the bowler, the jokes being cracked in the slips, the sledging, the captain fighting with his bowler, the umpire telling the batsman “right-arm medium, coming over the wicket to you”. In the commercial hub of the commercial hub of India, time would slow down during Ranji Trophy matches.

Now, though, a state-of-the-art stadium will replace my Wankhede. A symbol of India’s economic might in the world of cricket. Who knows, they might even come up with the best cricket stadium in the world with the best facilities. My Wankhede, though, I am not going to get back. Now, admittedly, there are much more charming grounds than the one-day specialist Premadasa in Colombo, but I wonder if somebody is losing their Premadasa too.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mahek on July 14, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    Intimate Wankhede? Gee Siddharth, it was a concrete monster with wooden benches and concrete slabs. Get off your high horse and think of the paying public that has to endure Mumbai's terrible weather. Oh and you can have an intimate stadium even after renovation, it's just that modern India has no sense of aesthetics. You wanna see modern beautiful stadia check out some of the major league ballparks, especially Petco Park in San Diego.

  • Venkatesh on July 13, 2010, 16:45 GMT

    Interesting that so much money is being pumped in for essentially 1 or 2 matches during the 2011 World Cup - after the event, these stadia will be largely empty during Tests matches and, gradually, interest will fade away in One-day matches and T20s. Cricket has become a TV event, not a spectator sport to be watched live.

    If only scarce investment dollars are channeled towards affordable housing and other meaningful activities, India will be far ahead economically compared to the collasal waste incurred almost non-stop thanks to Pawar and to the Indian public.

  • Vishnu on July 13, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    What we have to accept is that nothing lasts forever. We should just enjoy things while they last. My cousin brother has watched Sachin Tendulkar -er, 'Tendlya' growing up. Now, he just remembers 'the good old days'. Pity the good old days will never come back, but they might give lasting memories for some. The memories are for those who were there. Others? They should acknowledge them gracefully, because they themselves are in process of making meories for use later on.

  • RajasH on July 13, 2010, 13:36 GMT

    There is no more intimacy but commercialism in international cricket. I never been to R.Premadasa stdium, but SSC still offers some intimacy. I watched Australia v Pakistan ODI at Lords this summer and it was fun, the administrators though should let some atmosphere get in to the grounds.Banning musical implements and restricting on booze makes the atmosphere dour. An Ebglish village game is best for intimacy and lazy relaxing

  • Chesters on July 13, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    Premadasa Stadium, even when full was like sitting in a cavernous , shapeless monstrosity – a venue with ugly tiers of concrete benches in a down at heel location. It is why no one can expect anything better; the architects have no imagination and so will the new stadium be another monument to tawdry ugliness reflecting those who control Sri Lanka Cricket.

  • Nostalgic Premadasa on July 13, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    Everyday I pass by the Premedasa on my way to school. For over the last 6 months it has looked just the same if not worse. Construction is taking a very long time and I fear it won't be properly ready for the world cup. I think they have to start hustling and try and get it donr before it becomes an embarrassment for Sri Lanka.

  • WACA tragic on July 13, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    Indeed i agree, i much prefer a cricket "ground" as opposed to cauldron-esque stadium. can't comment on sub-continent grounds having never been there. But in Australia I find the WACA, Adelaide Oval and Bellrieve Oval much more of a spectators delight than the MCG or GABBA grounds. Even though at the WACA any form of enjoyment is drained out as Eskies and Bags of any sort are checked for anything remotely resembling food or drink. God forbid we paid less than $8 for a mid-strength beer..

  • Abhishek on July 13, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    Well said Sidharth. For all its negatives as a stadium, one could hear all the sounds emanating from the middle at the Wankhede which does not happen that much at the CCI, probably because of the open spaces near the pavilion. I remember watching Rahul Dravid on 199 against Mumbai in 2007 and surrounded by almost 7 players (I think) on the leg side. Left arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla beat him a few times and one could hear the oohs and aahs of the fielders so clearly that one felt part of the action. When the legend swept his way to a double century beating the leg side cordon, it was like the tension had been released. He had been recently dropped from the ODI side and every run of his was cheered by the 50-100 odd people in the Garware Pavilion. Will never get that in a MI vs RCB match I guess.

  • Vish, NZ on July 13, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    I fully agree. In Wellington we have the tests played at the Basin Reserve which I would rate as one of the most intimate grounds to watch cricket at. Contrast that against the WestpacTrust Stadium where the limited overs games are played: it is a concrete beast!!! I would say the Basin is for the true cricket lover who would rather watch test cricket and the concrete stadia are for the uninitiated!! You may call me elitist, but do I care!!!

  • Tharindu on July 13, 2010, 4:48 GMT

    I dont think the R premadasa stadium was a ever a village cricket ground like the one you saw in Wankhede. i think the grounds which holds resemblance to your description is the SSC in Sri Lanka, i think renovating the Premadasa will only make it better as the main stadium is Sri Lanka which will have the capacity to hold big crowds and it's specially important with the rise of T20 cricket, to have a stadium like this

  • Mahek on July 14, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    Intimate Wankhede? Gee Siddharth, it was a concrete monster with wooden benches and concrete slabs. Get off your high horse and think of the paying public that has to endure Mumbai's terrible weather. Oh and you can have an intimate stadium even after renovation, it's just that modern India has no sense of aesthetics. You wanna see modern beautiful stadia check out some of the major league ballparks, especially Petco Park in San Diego.

  • Venkatesh on July 13, 2010, 16:45 GMT

    Interesting that so much money is being pumped in for essentially 1 or 2 matches during the 2011 World Cup - after the event, these stadia will be largely empty during Tests matches and, gradually, interest will fade away in One-day matches and T20s. Cricket has become a TV event, not a spectator sport to be watched live.

    If only scarce investment dollars are channeled towards affordable housing and other meaningful activities, India will be far ahead economically compared to the collasal waste incurred almost non-stop thanks to Pawar and to the Indian public.

  • Vishnu on July 13, 2010, 14:00 GMT

    What we have to accept is that nothing lasts forever. We should just enjoy things while they last. My cousin brother has watched Sachin Tendulkar -er, 'Tendlya' growing up. Now, he just remembers 'the good old days'. Pity the good old days will never come back, but they might give lasting memories for some. The memories are for those who were there. Others? They should acknowledge them gracefully, because they themselves are in process of making meories for use later on.

  • RajasH on July 13, 2010, 13:36 GMT

    There is no more intimacy but commercialism in international cricket. I never been to R.Premadasa stdium, but SSC still offers some intimacy. I watched Australia v Pakistan ODI at Lords this summer and it was fun, the administrators though should let some atmosphere get in to the grounds.Banning musical implements and restricting on booze makes the atmosphere dour. An Ebglish village game is best for intimacy and lazy relaxing

  • Chesters on July 13, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    Premadasa Stadium, even when full was like sitting in a cavernous , shapeless monstrosity – a venue with ugly tiers of concrete benches in a down at heel location. It is why no one can expect anything better; the architects have no imagination and so will the new stadium be another monument to tawdry ugliness reflecting those who control Sri Lanka Cricket.

  • Nostalgic Premadasa on July 13, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    Everyday I pass by the Premedasa on my way to school. For over the last 6 months it has looked just the same if not worse. Construction is taking a very long time and I fear it won't be properly ready for the world cup. I think they have to start hustling and try and get it donr before it becomes an embarrassment for Sri Lanka.

  • WACA tragic on July 13, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    Indeed i agree, i much prefer a cricket "ground" as opposed to cauldron-esque stadium. can't comment on sub-continent grounds having never been there. But in Australia I find the WACA, Adelaide Oval and Bellrieve Oval much more of a spectators delight than the MCG or GABBA grounds. Even though at the WACA any form of enjoyment is drained out as Eskies and Bags of any sort are checked for anything remotely resembling food or drink. God forbid we paid less than $8 for a mid-strength beer..

  • Abhishek on July 13, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    Well said Sidharth. For all its negatives as a stadium, one could hear all the sounds emanating from the middle at the Wankhede which does not happen that much at the CCI, probably because of the open spaces near the pavilion. I remember watching Rahul Dravid on 199 against Mumbai in 2007 and surrounded by almost 7 players (I think) on the leg side. Left arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla beat him a few times and one could hear the oohs and aahs of the fielders so clearly that one felt part of the action. When the legend swept his way to a double century beating the leg side cordon, it was like the tension had been released. He had been recently dropped from the ODI side and every run of his was cheered by the 50-100 odd people in the Garware Pavilion. Will never get that in a MI vs RCB match I guess.

  • Vish, NZ on July 13, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    I fully agree. In Wellington we have the tests played at the Basin Reserve which I would rate as one of the most intimate grounds to watch cricket at. Contrast that against the WestpacTrust Stadium where the limited overs games are played: it is a concrete beast!!! I would say the Basin is for the true cricket lover who would rather watch test cricket and the concrete stadia are for the uninitiated!! You may call me elitist, but do I care!!!

  • Tharindu on July 13, 2010, 4:48 GMT

    I dont think the R premadasa stadium was a ever a village cricket ground like the one you saw in Wankhede. i think the grounds which holds resemblance to your description is the SSC in Sri Lanka, i think renovating the Premadasa will only make it better as the main stadium is Sri Lanka which will have the capacity to hold big crowds and it's specially important with the rise of T20 cricket, to have a stadium like this

  • Youpul on July 13, 2010, 4:47 GMT

    Right now, R Premadasa is not a good place to play any cricket.. To recover it it needs at least 1-2 years, rapid instruction is not necessary if the authorities play their role on time... they wait for the last moment..

  • Youpul on July 13, 2010, 4:46 GMT

    Right now, R Premadasa is not a good place to play any cricket.. To recover it it needs at least 1-2 years, rapid instruction is not necessary if the authorities play their role on time... they wait for the last moment..

  • Akshay on July 13, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    Mr Mongia, you can hear the shouts of the keeper, etc.......for there are not many spectators...... Try and watch the match from the general public stand...East stand....... It was awesome...but the facilities were poor, have watched all the test matches Wankhede since 1996 onwards..... You just burn in the sun...it will be a relief for us normal people

  • Ragz on July 13, 2010, 3:38 GMT

    Come on Sidharth, the old days might be good memories - since they are the only memories you have - but we desperately need better stadiums which are comfortable for both spectators (god save spectators with past facilities) & players

    There is no need to think about having things the way they are in memory of some by gone days or some so called "good old days"!

  • Gizza on July 13, 2010, 2:56 GMT

    There is no need to feel nostalgic. But what cricket administrators around the world should do is ensure a balance between modern, high-capacity stadiums and smaller more traditional cricket grounds. Apparently they are also renovating the Adelaide Oval, one of the few Australians grounds that still has grass (and room to have a picnic for example while watching the Test match). Smaller cricket grounds have a beauty of their own, since you can see the background (in some cities famous buildings, in other cities moutains and forests). The shape of smaller ground also tend to be more distinctive. Big stadiums tend to look alike.

    But like I said above, that is not to say there should be no big grounds. 120,000 screaming at the Wankhede would be a sight to behold but 20,000 loyal fans at some ground in the world which has history and character can be just as exciting.

  • ambi on July 13, 2010, 2:43 GMT

    i am reminded of the days that went by.i 1948-49 when i was a little boy of 9 , i remember watching my first test match between west indies and india.temporary stands of wooden planks supported by chowk posts wouls start appearing at least one month before the scheduled date and we were fairly comfortable in that accomodation.we used to have fun in the stands eating pattani kadalies and also kamala oranges which we ocassionaly there to frank worrell or bill ferguson while they were patrolling the boundary. now things are all changed inside the monstrous stadium which does not reflect the spirit of the game

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  • ambi on July 13, 2010, 2:43 GMT

    i am reminded of the days that went by.i 1948-49 when i was a little boy of 9 , i remember watching my first test match between west indies and india.temporary stands of wooden planks supported by chowk posts wouls start appearing at least one month before the scheduled date and we were fairly comfortable in that accomodation.we used to have fun in the stands eating pattani kadalies and also kamala oranges which we ocassionaly there to frank worrell or bill ferguson while they were patrolling the boundary. now things are all changed inside the monstrous stadium which does not reflect the spirit of the game

  • Gizza on July 13, 2010, 2:56 GMT

    There is no need to feel nostalgic. But what cricket administrators around the world should do is ensure a balance between modern, high-capacity stadiums and smaller more traditional cricket grounds. Apparently they are also renovating the Adelaide Oval, one of the few Australians grounds that still has grass (and room to have a picnic for example while watching the Test match). Smaller cricket grounds have a beauty of their own, since you can see the background (in some cities famous buildings, in other cities moutains and forests). The shape of smaller ground also tend to be more distinctive. Big stadiums tend to look alike.

    But like I said above, that is not to say there should be no big grounds. 120,000 screaming at the Wankhede would be a sight to behold but 20,000 loyal fans at some ground in the world which has history and character can be just as exciting.

  • Ragz on July 13, 2010, 3:38 GMT

    Come on Sidharth, the old days might be good memories - since they are the only memories you have - but we desperately need better stadiums which are comfortable for both spectators (god save spectators with past facilities) & players

    There is no need to think about having things the way they are in memory of some by gone days or some so called "good old days"!

  • Akshay on July 13, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    Mr Mongia, you can hear the shouts of the keeper, etc.......for there are not many spectators...... Try and watch the match from the general public stand...East stand....... It was awesome...but the facilities were poor, have watched all the test matches Wankhede since 1996 onwards..... You just burn in the sun...it will be a relief for us normal people

  • Youpul on July 13, 2010, 4:46 GMT

    Right now, R Premadasa is not a good place to play any cricket.. To recover it it needs at least 1-2 years, rapid instruction is not necessary if the authorities play their role on time... they wait for the last moment..

  • Youpul on July 13, 2010, 4:47 GMT

    Right now, R Premadasa is not a good place to play any cricket.. To recover it it needs at least 1-2 years, rapid instruction is not necessary if the authorities play their role on time... they wait for the last moment..

  • Tharindu on July 13, 2010, 4:48 GMT

    I dont think the R premadasa stadium was a ever a village cricket ground like the one you saw in Wankhede. i think the grounds which holds resemblance to your description is the SSC in Sri Lanka, i think renovating the Premadasa will only make it better as the main stadium is Sri Lanka which will have the capacity to hold big crowds and it's specially important with the rise of T20 cricket, to have a stadium like this

  • Vish, NZ on July 13, 2010, 4:52 GMT

    I fully agree. In Wellington we have the tests played at the Basin Reserve which I would rate as one of the most intimate grounds to watch cricket at. Contrast that against the WestpacTrust Stadium where the limited overs games are played: it is a concrete beast!!! I would say the Basin is for the true cricket lover who would rather watch test cricket and the concrete stadia are for the uninitiated!! You may call me elitist, but do I care!!!

  • Abhishek on July 13, 2010, 5:15 GMT

    Well said Sidharth. For all its negatives as a stadium, one could hear all the sounds emanating from the middle at the Wankhede which does not happen that much at the CCI, probably because of the open spaces near the pavilion. I remember watching Rahul Dravid on 199 against Mumbai in 2007 and surrounded by almost 7 players (I think) on the leg side. Left arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla beat him a few times and one could hear the oohs and aahs of the fielders so clearly that one felt part of the action. When the legend swept his way to a double century beating the leg side cordon, it was like the tension had been released. He had been recently dropped from the ODI side and every run of his was cheered by the 50-100 odd people in the Garware Pavilion. Will never get that in a MI vs RCB match I guess.

  • WACA tragic on July 13, 2010, 6:54 GMT

    Indeed i agree, i much prefer a cricket "ground" as opposed to cauldron-esque stadium. can't comment on sub-continent grounds having never been there. But in Australia I find the WACA, Adelaide Oval and Bellrieve Oval much more of a spectators delight than the MCG or GABBA grounds. Even though at the WACA any form of enjoyment is drained out as Eskies and Bags of any sort are checked for anything remotely resembling food or drink. God forbid we paid less than $8 for a mid-strength beer..