Will Rourkela Ever Get To Host Ranji Matches Again?
Rourkela: The Steel City and cricket have had close encounters in the past, which now seems to have lost in the pages of history.
It was on December 30, 1969, that Ispat Stadium here hosted Ranji Trophy match for the first time. Since then, 11 matches have played at this venue with the last Super League match between Odisha and Karnataka on February 23, 1998.
It has been 21 years now, and cricket lovers in Rourkela feel cheated of having being denied this privilege of watching well-known Indian players in action. Between 1919 and 1994, eminent cricketers like Anil Kumble, Venkatesh Prasad, Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammad Azharuddin, K Srikant, Ravi Shastri, Kiran More, Syed Kirmani, Vinod Kambli, Dilip Vengsarkar and Ajay Jadeja played on this ground to the cloud cheer of the people of the city.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) struck off this venue for Rajni matches thereafter as it failed to meet its guidelines.
According to the BCCI guidelines, a stadium for Ranji match must have separate green rooms and dressing room for both the teams and separate room for the team managers and observers. Besides, the stadium must have a grassy plain ground with two practice pitches for both the teams.
The Ispat Stadium has no such facilities at present and little has been done since then for the development of infrastructure here.
The Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) had also assured the RSP authorities of Ranji Trophy matches at regular interval subject to the required infrastructure development at the stadium.
Talking to Odisha Bytes, OCA secretary Sanjay Behera said the Steel City has produced a number of Ranji players like Rabi Panda, Harmohan Praharaj and Abinash Khatua. “Rourkela can be made as one of the major centres for cricket in the state as the city has all facilities like big hotels to accommodate the players. Besides, it is well connected by road, rail and air,” he added.
Behera said that BCCI in its revised guidelines had set some basic parameters. “It will not allow the matches to be played in stadiums where these facilities are not available. As far as the money is concerned, developing the infrastructure at the stadium with the basic amenities to meet the requirement of the BCCI is no big deal for the RSP authorities,” he added.
To a question on whether the OCA will take up the matter with the RSP, he said he will certainly have a meeting with the authorities soon. “I was recently elected as the OCA secretary and have to complete some pending works of the Association. Once I am done with them, I will have a meeting with the RSP authorities,” he said.
Chief of communication, RSP, Ramendra Kumar said that the steel sector in India is passing through a tough phase. Under such circumstances, the infrastructure development of the Ispat Stadium seems to be a remote possibility. However, he said that once the lean period is over, RSP will look into it.
He further said that apart from RSP, efforts should be made to rope in private parties for finance for the development of the stadium.