November 4, 2000

Chepauk ground to wear new look

The hallowed Chepauk ground will soon wear a new look. The ground is being relaid and by the end of November, the turf will be lush green.

Work on relaying the outfield was taken up about 45 days ago and is nearing completion. Scores of TNCA ground staff and casual labourers are working feverishly from morning to evening to get the ground in tip top condition.

According to Ashok Kumbhat, TNCA secretary, work on doing up the ground was pending for quite some time. ``With so many matches being played, there was never an opportunity to get the work done. But with many turf grounds now available in the city, some of the matches were played there which left us free to fulfill this onerous responsibility.'' In fact both the Ranji Trophy matches to be played in the city this month will be held on other grounds.

De weeding the outfield at the ground is a laborious process. But the main problem is being patiently attended to by the workers. Then fresh grass is being planted all over the ground. The unevenness of the ground is another factor that is being attended to. Thanks to about a hundred lorry loads of earth, river sand, fine clay and a lot of manure, the work is doing on smoothly and Kumbhat feels that the operation will be over in about 20 days.

Work on relaying at Chepauk has not been taken up since 1995 and the once perfectly green ground was urgently in need of an overhaul. The TNCA has spent no time and effort in getting the job done and Kumbhat estimates the total expense at Rs ten lakhs. The association formed a ground committee, under the chairmanship of former Indian captain S Venkatraghavan to be responsible for the onerous but important task. ``Once the work is over, the ground will have a billiard table top look,'' said Kumbhat.

There is no need to relay the pitch area, according to Kumbhat though some repairs are being carried out at the MAC stadium which has a capacity of around 46000.

The work was also undertaken with the idea of getting the ground fit for the one day international against Zimbabwe scheduled to be held at Chennai on December 14. But Kumbhat expressed his surprise and disappointment that the change in the itinerary had meant that Chepauk was devoid of conducting the match. According to the revised schedule, the matches will now be played at Cuttack, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Kanpur and Rajkot. Kumbhat said that according to the rotation system, adopted by the BCCI, Chennai should have got an opportunity to stage a ODI. But what surprised Kumbhat most was the fact that after the itinerary had been finalised, it had been changed in Mumbai two days ago without even the knowledge of BCCI president AC Muthiah. ``At the AGM in Chennai on September 29, there was not even a whisper of changing the venue,'' he said adding that the TNCA had already gone ahead with the preparations for the smooth conduct of the match. He was unable to explain how the venue had been changed and who was responsible for it.

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