Eden Gardens cleared but question marks remain

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat says he is hopeful of the Kolkata ground's ability to host the remaining three matches of the World Cup.

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India may be spared of further blushes with an Interational Cricket Council official saying it was hopeful of clearing Eden Gardens as a venue for the remaining three matches even as there were unconfirmed reports that the inspection panel, which paid two visits during the day yesterday, was irked by the progress of the work at the ground which is still not completely ready.

The venue was stripped off its first match, the India v England game slated for February 27, with an update yesterday on the capability to host the remaining three matches that were originally allotted to the Cricket Association of Bengal, the local body responsible for the Kolkata ground.

The ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat chose his words carefully by saying: "I have received a preliminary report (after yesterday's inspection) and the progress has been very good since January 25. In all likelihood, the remaining three matches will be held as per schedule." Lorgat was speaking at a promotional event in New Delhi.

The inspection panel members - stadium consultant Eugene Van Vuuren, general commercial manager Campbell Jamieson and event manager Chris Tetley - did not speak to the media but a reported quoted one of them anonymously saying they were unhappy with the slow progress of the work and many key elements still woefully lacking.

It has been alleged that a crucial part of the ground such as scoreboard was missing and the CAB tried to pass the buck on to the Indian cricket board saying it was their responsibility.

"But even then the work remains incomplete because people here simply don't want to work. The ICC had mentioned this in its earlier inspection reports as one of the main problems facing work completion, but the problem remains where it was," an expert from the panel said on conditions of anonymity.

There are also issues with the hospitality boxes and the room for the third umpire even as the ICC had extended the deadline for getting the ground ready twice already and punished them by taking one match away. They had also made it clear that they needed the ground ready well in advance to handle the various logistics involved for the marquee event.

The CAB also tried to request through the board to get the cancelled match back because it will be the only match concerning India that they had but Lorgat denied that possibility today: "That will be extremely difficult. A shifting requires all sorts of logistical changes which may not be possible in such a short duration."

Meanwhile, Lorgat also confirmed hot-spot technology, a key component of the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) which is making its World Cup debut this year, would not be used in the Feb. 19-April 2 event.

"We were always aware that there is a limited number of hot-spot cameras in the world and it was always going to be a case where we could not deploy it in all of the matches during the World Cup.

"So it's no surprise to us and I don't believe it a setback because the other specifications we have got is sufficient to improve correct umpiring decisions by more than five per cent.

"So we are quite satisfied with other technologies available to support the umpires."

Hot-spot cameras track the ball and provide images of its contact with bat or pad.

The sub-continent has been particularly vulnerable to corruption but Lorgat sounded equally positive about a incident-free World Cup.

"We prepared very well and we'll certainly deploy people to prevent that sort of activity. Just yesterday and today the whole ACSU (Anti-Corruption and Security Unit) units have assembled and they are preparing strategies and they will be pretty well prepared to ensure it is a clean event."
---- Lorgat also favoured legalising gambling in India, saying it would be easier to manage the issue if the betting industry was regulated.

"It's far easier to manage the issue and the temptation of corruption if the betting industry is regulated or legalised.

"Where it's not regulated, where it is illegal, it tends to go underground and it becomes that much more difficult to manage the issues. So we would like to find a way in which the whole industry can be regulated and that's what we are exploring."