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World Cup 2011

ICC rejects plea for Eden Gardens extension

Nagraj Gollapudi

January 30, 2011

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Construction workers sit in the Eden Gardens stands, Kolkata, January 27, 2011
The Cricket Association of Bengal and the BCCI will now have to decide whether the Eden Gardens will be ready in time for the other three games it is supposed to host © AFP
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The ICC has rejected the BCCI's request to reconsider moving the Group B match between India and England from Kolkata. The BCCI has recommended that the match, initially scheduled to be held at the Eden Gardens on February 27, be shifted to Bangalore. The ICC has given the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) 10 days to get Eden Gardens in shape for the other three World Cup matches that are scheduled to be held in Kolkata.

On Thursday, the ICC, after many deliberations, ruled out Kolkata as a host venue after its inspection team deemed the stadium unfit and expressed strong concerns about various facilities in the ground being ready in time for the game. Following the decision, the CAB president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, sent a plea to the ICC through the BCCI asking for a ten-day extension to finish the remaining work. Dalmiya received support from Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president, who sent in a separate "forwarding letter" to ICC chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, echoing the CAB's request.

However, Lorgat said the ICC could not be swayed at the last minute and conveyed his message to Manohar in an email late Friday night. "I told him the ICC could not accommodate the request," Lorgat told ESPNcricinfo. "There was too much of planning and too much of logistics that would be involved,"

It is understood that the ICC refused to climb down from its original stance because, having spoken to its stadium and ground-preparation experts again, the consensus remained that there was no guarantee Eden Gardens would be ready for the February 27 game. The feeling at the ICC was that Dalmiya, having found himself in a tight corner, was acting out of desperation. They believed things could not be sorted out in ten days, especially since Dalmiya had conceded to the ICC's inspection team on their January 25 visit that a further 20 days would be needed to get the ground ready.

The status of the other three group matches scheduled to be hosted by Kolkata - Ireland v Holland, South Africa v Ireland and Zimbabwe v Kenya - remains unclear at the moment. The ICC has clarified that there will be no further inspections of the venue. It is for the BCCI and CAB to let them know if Kolkata can host those three matches.

"The big commercial game was India v England. The other matches involve Associates, which cannot be big money spinners. It is now for the CAB to take a call and if they want to save the face, they could get the ground ready for the other three matches," an official close to the negotiations said.

Manohar, who had said on Friday that the ball was in the ICC's court regarding the decision, told DNA that the ICC was well within its rights to refuse the plea for reconsideration. "This is an ICC tournament and it has every right to decide on this," he said. "We've tried our best for the CAB but the final word was always going to be the ICC's."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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