Just two months to go for cricket's grandest event - the World Cup - and two premier venues in India are far from ready. The ICC inspection team has expressed shock at the slow progress of renovation at Kolkata's Eden Gardens stadium and Mumbai's Wankhede stadium.
In its interim report, the team has observed that the original Nov 30 deadline for the completion of construction was not met and if work is not finished by Jan 15, then these stadiums would not be confirmed as venues for the World Cup.
As of now, both stadiums are slated for busy schedules in the tournament. The itinerary at Eden Gardens kicks off with the 11th match of the tournament, between India and England from Group B on Feb 27. The second match at the venue will be the cup's 34th fixture, between Ireland and South Africa, also from Group B, on Mar 15, while the final clash at this stadium will occur when Ireland takes on the Netherlands on Mar 18.
Wankhede's schedule for the Cup begins with the 30th match, between Canada and New Zealand from Group A on Mar 13, followed by the Cup's 37th match, between New Zealand and Sri Lanka on Mar 18 and teh stadium will host the final of the tournament on April 2.
Over and above the construction work, there are other nitty-gritties that need to addressed rather quikly. These include landscaping and mandatory beautification of the grounds, interior furnishing, the installation of entry gates, certification by local authorities, and the introduction of of temporary infrastructure required specifically for the World Cup.
The report rings a bell as venues for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi earlier this year were also completed at the last moment and after widespread criticism from athletes, officials and the global media.
Tournament director Ratnakar Shetty appears to be ignorant of the unpreparedness, but has assured that all unfinished work will be supervised and completed before Dec 31. "There are two parts of the job that have to be completed in the Wankhede Stadium: the last of the construction and the finishing of the details," he said.
The report was especially critical of the condition of Eden Gardens, which it said had far more unresolved issues than any other venue, and there was no proper intimation or cooperation from the local administration. Roofs have to be built over two blocks and work on them would have to start immediately if the stadium is to meet the Jan 15th deadline, which is when the ICC inspection team will conduct its final assessment.
Tickets and hospitality currently offered for the use of ICC sponsors are unacceptable, sight-screens at both ends need to be raised, a suitable location for the D/L Manager needs to be found, the anti-doping and medical rooms need to be at separate facilities, an overflow location for media and NRH needs to be identified and demarcated and uninterrupted back-up power is needed for the floodlights and replay screens.
Meanwhile, the pending work for Wankhede Staidum includes - uninterrupted power supply for the floodlights and replay screens, one-way tinting to be placed on glass frontages above sight-screens at both end, the umpires changing room need to move to a more suitable location, and he anti-doping and medical rooms need to be separated.