History-of-cricket-grounds

As a sport, cricket has cruised against time, keeping her historical and monumental significance intact. The sport would not have been as memorable had the many stadiums around the world not been there. The cricket stadium is the shrine for the performer of the art — the cricketer. It holds a special place in a cricketer’s life. So much so, Brian Lara named his daughter Sydney, following his 277 at the ground in 1993. However, how much do we know the numerous grounds around the world? Names like Eden Gardens, Lord’s, will forever be known to the billions of cricket fans, but do we know the history behind the famous names? Sudatta Mukherjee lists five such cricket grounds with their unique identity and name.

Lord's Cricket Ground © Getty Images
Lord’s Cricket Ground © Getty Images

Lord’s: The home of cricket, Lord’s Cricket Ground (at St John’s Wood, London), is named after its founder, Thomas Lord. Currently owned by MCC, Lord’s continues to serve as headquarters for ECB, ECC, Middlesex, and, of course, MCC.

Lord, a cricketer himself, played First-Class for Middlesex, Epsom and MCC. Funnily, the Lord’s cricket ground today is not situated at its original site. The current ground is the third site built by Lord in between 1787 and 1814.

The first (Lord’s Old ground) is where Dorset Square stands today. The second (Lord’s Middle Ground) was abandoned after 1813 and was used for only two years. It gave away for the construction of Regent’s Canal outfield.

In 1814, to the north-west of the Middle Ground, the current ground was established. This, however, was not without event. Thomas Lord landed in financial crisis; in 1825 he decided to use a part of the ground for constructions, leaving a mere 150 square yards. Eventually William Ward (MCC member, a Director of Bank of England, and a champion batsman who once had the highest First-Class score — 278) stepped in with £5,000 to stop Lord.

Father Time © Getty Images
Father Time © Getty Images

The ground has a rich heritage and historical significance in the journey of the game itself and houses many iconic features such as Father Time, Media Centre, Tavern Stand, Harris Garden and Grace Gates —and, of course, the Honours Board cricketers across the world aspire to get their names on to.

One of the queerest features of Lord’s is her sparing use of floodlights. Lord’s finally gave in to popular demand, installed floodlights in 2007 but had to take them off in 2008 — when the locals complained of light pollution (trust Londoners to come up with something like that!). The new conditions involve the lights being dimmed at 9.50 PM and being switched off at 11.

Eden Gardens © Getty Images
Eden Gardens © Getty Images

Eden Gardens: Regarded by many as ‘cricket’s answer to The Coliseum’, Eden Gardens is one of the iconic stadiums in the world. Till a few years back, Eden Gardens has hosted 90,000 spectators (however, people have crammed in — often illegally, especially during the World Cup semi-final of 1996 and the India vs Pakistan Test of 1999-00 — pushing the unofficial count well past 100,000. The home of cricket in Bengal, Eden Gardens has hosted football matches also in the past. Established in 1864, the stadium derives its name from the Eden sisters (Emily and Fanny) of Lord Auckland, Governor-General of India from 1836 to 1842. One of the sisters, Emily, was a renowned poetess and novelist and was often compared to Jane Austen’s writing style. Eden Gardens and Eden Park: Two cricket grounds, one name, one family

Melbourne Cricket Ground © Getty Images
Melbourne Cricket Ground © Getty Images

The G: The famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) is the largest cricket ground in terms of capacity. Hosting over 90,000 plus spectators, MCG plays host to Australian Rules Football (AFL), athletics and football. The 12th largest stadium in the world, MCG is lovingly known as ‘The G’ by fans across the world. This is simply because many regard the stadium as ‘THE GROUND’. As a result, since ages, it has been called ‘The G’.

Green Park © Getty Images
Green Park © Getty Images

Green Park: Green Park is famous for two 9-wicket hauls by Subhash Gupte and Jasu Patel. Situated near the North-East part of the city, adjacent to river Ganga, Green Park was named after Madam Green. Apparently, during the pre-independence era, Madam Green used to practise horse-riding at the park. There is also a Madam Green Road and a Green Street near the stadium.

Unfortunately, not a lot more is known about Madam Green. The stadium is unique in India, for it has a Students Gallery. Green Park also sports the largest manual scoreboard in the world. The stadium witnessed India’s first Test win over Australia in 1959.

New Wanderers. Photo Courtesy - Google.
New Wanderers. Photo Courtesy – Google.

The Bull Ring: How many of you know that New Wanderers, Johannesburg, is also called Bull Ring? Built in 1956, replacing the Old Wanderers, the stadium was renovated after South Africa’s readmission into international cricket in 1991. New Wanderers is nicknamed ‘Bull Ring’ due to its design. The stadium has witnessed several memorable moments in cricketing history — from hosting the ICC World Cup 2003 final to witnessing an ODI chase of 435 to Greg Blewett’s 214 to AB de Villiers’ 2015 madness to Hugh Tayfield’s 9 for 113 against England in 1956 (when she was Old Wanderers).

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English televison show on her laptop. Her Twitter handle is @blackrosegal)