Kolkata: Nov 14, 2011
Former England captain Tony Greig likened the historic Eden Gardens to a 'morgue' when the India-West Indies Test match began with just 1000 spectators in attendance and classy Indian batsman Rahul Dravid too felt that the old "magic" was missing at the venue, on Monday.
The number of the fans increased gradually at the ground specially when Sachin Tendulkar was bating, and according to official figures about 15,000 fans turned up on Monday.
Dravid, who scored a century in India's first innings, though said it was not just India where fans are staying away from the game, the situation was same everywhere.
"I remember coming here in the 90s it was 100,000 people, 80,000 people watching a game of cricket. In some ways, it is little sad. But that's the way it is. It is not only Calcutta it's all over the world now. It's becoming tougher and tougher to get people on to the ground. It's the sad part," Dravid said after end of first day's play.
He however said that the magic of Test cricket remains even as the Eden was no more the same.
"Not that the magic was not there but there was a magic about this ground when the atmosphere was electrifying with 80-100,000 people would be cheering," Dravid lamented.
With Tendulkar's impending 100th international century being the only attraction against the low-key West Indians, the Eden atmosphere resembled Ranji-like with less than 1,000 turning up at the start.
Cricketer-turned-commentator Tony Greig described the historic venue as a "morgue" in a tweet.
"Eden Gardens was one of my favourite grounds because of its wonderful atmosphere. Today it looks and sounds like a morgue," the former English all-rounder wrote, blaming it on a Monday start.
Remembering about the 2001 Test in which Laxman's 281 and Dravid's 180 in an epic 376-run stand helped India rise from the dead to a 171-run win, Bijay Dubey a BPO professional said, "what an atmosphere it was..."
"I remember the day when more than 80,000 were there rising on their feet and roaring. Everybody, including police officials were dancing. It feels sad to see Eden like this," said the 35-year-old.
Eden has hosted three international matches in the last 20 days and on all occasions full crowd was not there.
In India's ODI against England on October 25, only 27,000 were in attendance, lowest in match involving the home team. The Twenty20s though had a sizeable crowd of about 35,000.
The renovated Eden Gardens has a 67,000 capacity from the earlier 1 lakh-plus.(PTI)