Tribune News Service
Amritsar, March 1
Even after 88 years Gandhi Ground (cricket stadium), which had hosted several international matches, is far from completion. Though many international tournaments in the past were held here, but things went wayward as the stadium was not developed as per the guidelines of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Forget about the state-of-the-art equipment, even basic facilities were crying for attention.
Many parts of the ground cannot be accessed due to absence of staircase and concrete seating arrangement has been missing. Once completed, the seating capacity would increase from 15,000 to 25,000. A raised concrete platform for installing high-definition cameras has no access and a stopgap arrangement has been made by using of bamboo sticks.
An announcement to install floodlights was made in 2009 and expression was received from five companies, but things did not materialise.
In 2015, former cabinet minister Anil Joshi had shown interest to elevate the ground as per international standards to host IPL matches, however, nothing positive came out. Veteran cricketers said Gandhi Ground played an essential role in honing their skills. They said in the absence of quality cricket ground, it would be difficult to produce cricketers.
A peep into the past
Gandhi Ground (roughly spread on 22 acres) was established in 1932 with a donation from Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and then Punjab Government. Subsequently, Guru Nanak stadium, badminton hall, AGA Club, Cosmo Club, Virsa Vihar and other entities were carved out of it. Now, the cricket stadium is situated on nine acres.
The first match was played between India XI and MCC in 1933. The Indian cricket team was led by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh along with Lala Amarnath, Col CK Naidu and Surjit Singh Majithia.
Legends, including Madan Lal, Mohinder Amarnath, Bishan Singh Bedi, Surinder Amarnath, Sarandeep Singh Harvinder Singh and others honed their skills at this ground.
The cricket ground hosted several international teams, including West Indies, Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and England. The Indian cricket team played against Sri Lanka here in 1983. The North Zone cricket team had played West Indies in 1984. The ground hosted the last international match between India and New Zealand in 1995.
Raman Bakshi, vice-president, Amritsar Games’ Association-cum-Senior Deputy Mayor, said huge amount is required to complete public gallery, install floodlights and construct luxury rooms, besides constructing the entire stadium.
He said Mayor Karamjit Singh Rintu had announced a grant of Rs1 crore for the ground. He said the first priority was to prepare the pitch and surrounding ground. Bakshi said around eight samples of soil have been received for the same.
Around six new rooms would be constructed for which Rs3 crore would be required to install floodlights to host day-night matches.
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