Picturesque Diu is keen to host match

Written by: Suresh Parekh
Published: Monday, December 25, 2000, 17:15 [IST]
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Rajkot: Saurashtra can boast of only two good cricket grounds. One is obviously Rajkot, which has hosted quite a few One-day International matches and the second at Gandhidham. The grounds at the Bhavnagar and at Jamnagar are just pathetic.

But, Diu - a Union Territory situated just off the coast of Saurashtra - boasts of a very good stadium, which is capable of hosting a big match. Diu's 'Padmabhushan Complex' is perhaps one of the most picturesque grounds in India and for sure this is the only ground which has a fort situated at its periphery.

The fort, situated just on the edge of the boundary line and opposite the main pavilion, is in itself a breathtaking sight and one can see the match from the top of the fort as well.

There was hardly any cricket in Diu till 1994. Two young, energetic and dynamic cricketers turned administrators decided to take up the challenge of putting Diu on the cricketing map.

They met the Collector of the Diu and he responded immediately to their call and in the same year the Diu and District Cricket Association was established. A festival match was also organised with the help of the Saurashtra Cricket Association. All the superstars of the Indian cricket team including Azhar, Sachin and Kumble participated in the match.

A cricketing fever gripped the tiny island, which is otherwise famous for its beaches and the Saurashtra Cricket Association also decided to chip in by allotting a Ranji match to Diu in 1995 though it technically did not belong to Saurashtra. But, the Mumbai Cricket Association objected to the fact that Diu did not belong to Saurashtra and the match had to be cancelled in the 11th hours.

Since then no major matches have taken, except few district matches. But good news for the Diu and Disrtict Cricket Association (DDCA) is that now they are affiliated to Saurashtra Cricket Association and their cricketers can represent Saurashtra teams. In fact, two cricketers from Diu have played for Saurashtra in the under-16 and under-19 teams and have done well.

Coming back to the stadium in Diu, though it has its glamour value, which symbolises the Portuguese Culture, it has its draw back too. The stadium is not maintained properly. The wicket is one of the most beautiful in the country and was prepared under the watchful eyes of Dhiraj Parsanna, who is a member of the Board of Control for Cricket in India's pitch committee.

As DDCA president Narsinhbhai Charania said, the association failed to host the Wills Cup match as the ground condition was very poor. The Collectorate of Diu is vested with powers to maintain the ground, which unfortunately is used for organising cultural festivals and programmes.

According to player Bipin Shah, who has been performing excellently for the last three years as an all-rounder, the stadium does not have any groundsmen and the players have to prepare the wicket before a match. But, the officials and players of Diu are very enthusiastic and hope that big matches will happen at this wonderful venue soon.

DDCA secretary Kirti Gohel said, "We do have many players with natural talent. Given the right platform they can perform exceedingly well. I'm sure, it won't be too long before players from Diu will be representing Saurashtra in Ranji Trophy cricket."

Thankfully, the present Collector A K Singh is keen to promote sports in the island. "I am really looking forward to seeing a Ranji Trophy, Wills Trophy or the Deodhar Trophy match taking place here. I will definitely extend all support and I will welcome the idea if Diu is considered as a future venue for big matches," he told Thatscricket.com.

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