Brabourne set to begin new innings

The historical Brabourne Stadium at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) in Mumbai will again host international matches regularly.

This was decided at the BCCI AGM here on Sunday. The CCI has offered its ground free-of-cost to host practice matches of the Australian team that will arrive in a couple of days for a T20 and ODI series.

“We are absolutely battle ready to host any kind of matches, with floodlights and other facilities in place. We are waiting eagerly to again host international matches,” CCI secretary N.K Jha told Mail Today from Mumbai.

It is much more than a co-incidence that the Board has suddenly decided to allot important matches to CCI at a time when Sharad Pawar, a known rival of BCCI president N. Srinivasan, has indicated that he would be staging a comeback to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA).

Some people are interpreting this decision a masterstroke by Srinivasan to clip MCA’s wings even before Pawar jumps into the fray in the MCA elections on October 18.

Once the CCI joins the rotation policy for venues to host international matches, MCA’s Wankhede Stadium would naturally not get to host matches as frequently as it does now. Both the Mumbai venues, which are less than two kilometres apart on the famous Marine Drive, would certainly not get to stage matches in the same series, be it Tests or ODIs.

At the AGM, the MCA protested “vehemently” against the BCCI’s decision to make CCI an international venue again. MCA president Ravi Savant attended the BCCI AGM.

“Savant lodged his protest on the BCCI’s decision,” said a source who was present at the meeting".

Jha said that the CCI had been trying to make BCCI see reason and allot international matches again.

“We have been trying to convince the BCCI for several years. The issue has matured now, and we are grateful to Mr N. Srinivasan and the BCCI for finally taking this decision,” he said.

“We will be pressing hard to get to host a match as soon as possible,” he said. “I must inform you that the CCI will be hosting the practice matches of the visiting Australian team in a few days, and we have offered the venue free of cost. The last time the CCI hosted a Test match was in December 2009, when India, riding on Virender Sehwag’s brilliant 293, beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 24 runs. That was a historic match as India became world No. 1 in Test cricket with that win,” Jha pointed out.

In all, CCI has hosted 18 Test matches, the first of which was played in 1948-49, when India clashed with the West Indies.

The last ODI at the CCI was played during the 2006 Champions Trophy. It was the final match, between Australia and the West Indies. And the lone T20 International the CCI staged was in October 2007, an India- Australia encounter.

“We also hosted the IPL matches in 2010 and they were hugely successful,” Jha chipped in.

Jha said the BCCI was yet to send a formal communication on its decision. But that would be a formality as he pointed out that the ground was well equipped to host matches at the shortest of notices.

CCI has a long history as it was built and incorporated as a company in 1933 while Wankhede Stadium was completed in a record time of six months and hosted its first Test, against England, in 1975.

Renowned politician S. K. Wankhede built the stadium after a dispute with CCI arose over a few Test match passes.


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