Thinking cricket? Mend your home first.
This diktat from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has forced the state government to come up with some good news for cricket lovers by mid-2015.
Built in 1970, the Moinul Haque Stadium, which epitomises government negligence and slackness, would be renovated to take it on a par with international standards. It would be something similar to the neighbouring Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) International Stadium, which was inaugurated last year and has already hosted international one-day and T20 matches.
The Moinul Haque Stadium, earlier called Rajendra Nagar Stadium, had hosted its first one-day match between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe over a decade back in 1993.
In 1996, another international one-day between Kenya and Zimbabwe was played at the stadium, after which it lost its sheen and soon was a forgotten affair when it came to holding international events.
Vinay Bihari, the minister of state for art, culture and youth affairs, said the department held talks with the BCCI and the state has been asked to develop the cricket infrastructure first.
“In Bihar, sports has been a neglected affair. We have a stadium that hosted international matches but lack of government support has pushed it from bad to worse. There are three cricket associations in Bihar and none of them is identified by the BCCI. The stadium is in a shambles. We had initial talks with the BCCI and we were told to mend our home first and then visit them. We have decided to completely overhaul the Moinul Haque Stadium and make it perfect for hosting international matches,” the minister said.
He added that work on this has begun and the state government is sure that the stadium will be upgraded by next May. “Once this is done, we will invite the BCCI officials to have a look and decide,” he said.
The 27-acre stadium houses the 131st battalion of the CRPF, a swimming pool and also the Kadamkuan police station.
Stadium manager Anil Kumar Sinha said: “The detailed project report of the stadium is being prepared and it is in its final stage. Once it is done, the tendering process would start and an independent consultant will be appointed for it. We expect these formalities to end within the next two months and the construction to start soon. It is obvious that the battalion and other establishments will have to be shifted. We hope for the best,” Sinha said.
A tour around the stadium proved that a lot is to be done.
“Just six men are working at the stadium (groundsman, sweeper, peon, manager, guard and another employee). During the 1996 match, an electronic score board was put up but now it is non-functional. There are no floodlights and the ground is too low. During heavy rain, the ground gets flooded. The condition of the stands, the washrooms and the rest rooms are in very bad shape. Renovating the stadium would be a challenge. But we hope it would be completed successfully,” groundsman Sriram Singh said.
The pitch is, however, in good shape and proper care is being taken.
Sports experts and enthusiasts believe that use of the ground for other activities like playing football left the ground in such a bad shape.
“The cricket ground is used for other games as well. This has left the ground totally damaged. Even athletics meets were organised at the stadium. Only cricket should be allowed here,” said another stadium official.
The minister said initial instructions have been passed on to carry on the work.
“Local cricket matches are being played at the stadium continuously. For 10 days of each month, the ground will not be given out for any kind of sporting events. The focus will be on development of the outfield and the pitch. We have planned to come up with another international cricket stadium on a 45-acre land at Tilkhi in Gaya,” the minister said.