Thursday, December 27, 2012

Garden of Eden

The name Eden Gardens needs no introduction. This Mecca of world cricket is Kolkata's pride. The magnificent Cricket stadium is awesome in size and on any given day can accommodate spectators in excess of 100,000 making it one of the biggest cricket stadiums in the world. It also happens to be one of the most technologically advanced cricket stadiums, complete with a state-of-the-art electronic scoreboard, a fabulous pavilion and gigantic floodlit towers which emit million watts rays during day-night cricket matches.

Cricket in Eden Gardens can be such a thrilling experience. The vast crowds and their passion for the game is what strikes the most every time you watch a cricket series here. The atmosphere is electric and packed grounds make it an unforgettable moment if you happen to be achieving a feat. Every cricketer has a dream of someday playing at the hallowed turf of Eden Gardens. It is the ultimate ecstasy for a cricketer. Eden Gardens is the oldest cricket ground in India and is also considered one of the finest in the world. The present Eden Gardens Cricket Club came in existence some time in the year 1864. It has been called the Lord's of Asia. The stadium is the one of the largest cricketing facilities in the world, along with the MCG.

The gardens were created in 1840 and named after the sister of Lord Auckland, the former governor general. The idea was to make a Biblical - style Garden of Eden in India. The expanse dotted with beautiful trees and shrubs is intersected by winding paths, and there is a large artificial lake. Alongside the gardens, is the world famous Eden Gardens cricket stadium. Along with the MCG, the Eden Gardens remains cricket's answer to the Coliseum.

The first ever first-class match to be played here was in 1917-18, while the first Test match was against Douglas Jardine's MCC in January 1934. Since then the ground has hosted the most number of matches than any other venue in India and it has become something of a place of pilgrimage for most international cricketers, a chance to strut their stuff in front of the most passionate and vocal crowd in the game. In February 1987, the stadium hosted its first One day international match against Pakistan.

Many grounds in India resemble each other in terms of conditions and pitches, outfields and appearances, but there is nothing quite likes the Eden Gardens. When the stands are packed with what usually is a partisan crowd, the stands come alive like nowhere else. The sheer volume of noise generated - and this is not merely when the crowd is chanting together - ensures that the crowd imposes itself on the proceedings out in the middle. It's not merely a question of players being unable to hear each other, but the atmosphere can be plain intimidating for the visiting side.

In any International cricket game here, first comes the wave of a lakh Indians leaping to their feet, raising their arms to the heavens and shouting in unison. And in day-nighters the shower of fire-crackers and flares in the stands and on the fields in the middle of the game or more precisely throughout the entire game just electrifies the entire atmosphere.Tens of thousands of euphoric spectators chanting ‘In-dya! In-dya!’ rolling up newspapers, setting them ablaze and holding them torch like above their heads lightens everyone spectators euphoric cheering hearts.

Eden Garden has a history of its own. The crowd can be sometimes fanatic but also be respectful to those who deserve. The same Gardens' crowd warmed up to the appeal of Tony Greig. As the huge frame of Greig went down on its knees and folded hands, the gesture moved each and every one present. When Asif Iqbal walked back to the pavilion after a freak runout dismissal, the crowd to a man realized that he was walking out of Test cricket for ever.

The huge gathering rose as one. None initially clapped. Not a sound was heard. Some had glassy eyes, others softly cleared their throats. As the despondent figure receded, a thunderous applause went up that shook the coliseum to its foundations. Eden Gardens went into raptures when Steve Waugh gestured to the umpires that while taking the catch his heel had touched the boundary rope.

If you wanna catch the buzz and the electrifying atmosphere of Eden Gardens, just be there when there is an International Cricket match on. The thrill of Eden will make you spellbound - the surging crowds, the passionate slogans, the perfectly synchronized Mexican waves and the proverbial boooo! every time a wicket falls, are all trademark Eden Gardens nuances.

The picturesque environs of Eden Gardens, reminiscent of English cricket grounds 30 years ago, blends marvelously with the mellow December sun that heralds a typical Calcutta winter morning. Not too long ago the pall of mist over the lazy Hooghly River had an ally in the swaying palms and towering poplars and pines which playfully hissed around with the breeze to create the gloomy haunt of swing and swerve.

Eden Gardens has an exclusiveness of its own. Ethereal and elusive the enduring charm of Eden Gardens has lent an aura of its own on cricketers past and present, young and old, competitive and friendly. Endearing and enchanting, the emerald green carpet and the earnest crowd have held tough men in flannels spellbound. The magic of Eden Gardens is enshrined in its purity.

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