Two iconic cricket grounds in London have their more obscure counterparts in the periphery of Kolkata. Lord’s and The Oval, the historic grounds that host key international games in the cricketing extravaganza of the English summer, are cricket grounds surrounding Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) in Shibpur, Howrah, on the banks of the Hooghly distributary that serves as Kolkata’s border. The Oval, the more famous of the two, is now planned to be utilised for domestic matches by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) in a deal with IIEST ratified by the board’s joint secretary Sourav Ganguly.
According to a profile done by The Telegraph, the historic value of the ground is testified by the professors of the college, who say that the trees around the ground were planted by the British. The earliest photographs of the ground are dated back to 1848. It will now be taken under the aegis of CAB for First-Class and club cricket games by 2016-17. Galleries, in accordance with the basic stands already present, will be erected, and an electronic scoreboard, too. CAB treasurer Biswarup Dey said, “It’s a very beautiful ground and the cricket community will take note of it soon.” READ: When I visited the Eden Gardens for the first time
At one end of the ground is a decent-sized, tin pavilion that has ‘OVAL’ written in white on the visible half of the roof that branches into two slopes. There are a couple of stands made of concrete on either side of this prominent pavilion. The trees around the ground, deodars, claimed by the faculty, to have been planted by the British, give the ground a different fell, as a professor of the college felt: “The setting is unlike any cricket ground you will find in the country.”
The CAB, in its agreement with the college, will provide a coach for their cricket team, for their participation in the CAB college league, and help develop two grounds: The Oval, for cricket, and Lord’s. This other ground, aptly named, will host football and athletics, Dey said. The two grounds are 200 metres away, separated by a canopy trail. READ: Eden Gardens to host ICC World T20 2016 final
Although the director of the college has called the settlement a ‘win-win situation’ for both sides, it has not been accepted well by all students and faculty in college: “This ground is very close to our hearts. Our boys want to play on the beautiful turf whenever they feel like. But when it is pre-booked for club or first-class matches, they won’t be able to play there,” a professor of the institute said.
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