Kolkata: Eden Gardens is to India what Lord`s is to England and the sporting fraternity is shocked and disappointed after the country`s mecca of cricket, Eden Gardens lost out on a chance to host the Indian team in the upcoming World Cup.
It will be for the first time that the India cricket team will not be playing at the venue that had hosted the 1987 World Cup final and 1996 World Cup semi-finals after the ICC inspectors found that Eden Gardens was not ready to host February 27-slated marquee India-England match.
Former Bengal captain Deep Dasgupta said that the issue could have been handled in a better way.
"It (Eden Gardens) has a cult status in world cricket. Everyone around the world wants to play in Eden Gardens. It`s like Sydney or Lord`s," Dasgupta, who handles the cricket operations of new IPL franchise Sahara Pune Warriors, said.
"We all were waiting for more than a year to see India vs England in Eden Gardens. Both the teams are favourites to win the World Cup. So it`s disappointing, and very sad," he said.
Out-of-favour India batsman Robin Uthappa, who played in 2007 World Cup, said, "It`s one of the finest grounds in the country. Everybody is disheartened, but we need to move on."
It was not just from the cricket fraternity, former Olympians were equally dismayed at the snub meted out to Eden.
Former India footballer P K Banerjee said he wanted to see the match but it would not be possible now.
"Thousands of fans have been deprived and the fault is not theirs. It`s really sad. I have not gone to the Eden in the past few years but the match was on my agenda. But it`s not possible now," the former India captain said.
Another former India football captain Chuni Goswami, who also played for Bengal in Ranji Trophy, said time was a constraint and felt CAB`s planning went horribly wrong.
"We should have given priority to the renovation work. I had a faint idea about the fate of Eden. So I`m disappointed but it is not exactly unexpected. The authorities became over-confident to do everything at a time when they should have done it in parts. Things could have been different had the CAB planned their work better," he said.
Drawing parallel with the Commonwealth Games mess, hockey Olympian Gurbux Singh blamed it on the Indian mentality that always ignores deadlines.
"Look at London. The stadiums are ready though the Olympics are scheduled to be held in 2012. It is unimaginable to think that the World Cup will be held in India and there will be no India match at Eden Gadens," Singh rued.
Former India Davis Cup captain Jaidip Mukerjea said Eden is like the historic Lord`s.
"Sad that Kolkata will not be holding India vs England match. I think it is the fault of the organisers. The ICC gave them a lot of chances but they had no option but to drop the venue (for the India fixture)," he said.
Veteran Gopal Bose, who played for India in one ODI and was a peer to the great Sunil Gavaskar, said unfortunate would be an understatement.
Blaming it on the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB), he said, "The CAB missed three deadlines. I don`t know exactly what happened but I feel that we were a bit over confident. It could also be a case of an ego clash."
Former India glovesman Saba Karim said it was a sad moment for the entire East Zone.
"A lot of people had plans to watch the India-England match at the Eden as both the teams are in good form. Maybe it serves as a wake-up call for the people involved in it," Saba said.
Former India opener Devang Gandhi said he was equally disheartened.
"We were all looking forward to an India match in the World Cup. I feel the ICC was firm in what they wanted despite the venue`s successful history of international matches. But then, the ICC overlooked everything."
Bengal`s 1989-90 Ranji Trophy-winning captain Sambaran Banerjee said India-England match was one of the most exciting fixtures of Group B.
"Having won the Ashes, England are in a great form. It is extremely unfortunate not to see them playing at the Eden, that too against India. It`s thoroughly unprofessional and we must ensure that we do not repeat such mistakes in future," Banerjee, now the state selection committee chairman, said.
Former India middle-order batsman Ashok Malhotra, however, argued that if Mumbai`s Wankhede stadium was given an extension by the ICC then why not to Eden.
"The ground and the wicket (here) is ready. If the Wankhede is given an extension, then why not Eden? I feel that the ICC was also a little hasty in their decision."