Eden will miss Jagmohan Dalmiya and Prabir Mukherjee

Jagmohan Dalmiya and Prabir Mukherjee complemented each other, in good and bad days, and departed within nine months, leaving a void hard to fill.

Jagmohan Dalmiya's cutouts outside the Eden Gardens stadium.   -  K. R. Deepak

Cut outs of Jagmohan Dalmiya dot the road alongside the Eden Gardens provides a sad reminder of his absence at the iconic stadium that he nurtured for more than three decades. When you step inside the stadium, the familiar figure of Prabir Mukherjee, the lanky curator, is missing too. His booming voice would keep the ground staff on their toes and often serve as warning to the players not to venture near the square. M. S. Dhoni had a sour send-off once by "Prabir Da", as he was fondly referred to.

Dalmiya, popular among cricket circles as Jaggu Da, and Mukherjee would be conspicuous by their absence as the Eden celebrates India’s 250th Test on home soil. Dalmiya and Mukherjee complemented each other, in good and bad days, and departed within nine months, leaving a void hard to fill.

The changing face of the Eden is driven home by a new set of office-bearers, led by Sourav Ganguly. He misses the two elderly cricket figures at the Eden and also acknowledges the necessity of modernisation of the iconic stadium. An effective drainage system is the priority, not to forget the state-of-the-art covers that Ganguly has procured. Rain will not ruin a match anymore at the Eden.

The crowd at the Eden has changed. There is no clamour for tickets which is not a good sign for the future of Test cricket at all. True, Green Park witnessed overwhelming spectators’ response. But Eden is the barometer to judge an event.

The character of the spectators has undergone a change at most cricket venues in the country. Eden is not an exception either. Driven by the IPL experience, the fans come and celebrate the day at a cricket ground with a festive flavour. They are vociferous as always, but not the traditional cricket lovers.

The crowd at the Eden was always passionate apart from being well-informed. Sports scribe Dhiman Sarkar shares an anecdote. He was nine when he first attended a Test at the Eden — India va England, in 1982. Derek Underwood got a wicket. The person next to him asked: “Do you know what ball was it?” Dhiman looked askance. “That was an armer.”

It said it all. The audience did not come to the Eden to just take their seats and make noise. They did the homework and enjoyed the fare dished out by some of the greats, past and modern.

There would be some in the stands from the old school to carry on the legacy of the Eden, a rich testimony of India’s cricket history. Only Jaggu Da and Prabir Da would be missing for the first time in many years.

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