Stuart Broad praises Rajkot stadium facilities

The England team which asked for three batting nets at the Brabourne Stadium for its practice there at the Cricket Club of India, may have been surprised to see 14 batting nets — 12 of natural turf and one each of artificial turf and cement.

Stuart Broad at a practice session on Monday ahead of the first cricket Test match between India and England, at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot.   -  K.R. Deepak

After a short break from the three-Test series against New Zealand, the Indian team looked forward to a serious preparation for the five-Test series against England. After arriving here two days ago, it has used the most of the superb practice facilities here at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium.

Similarly, the England team which asked for three batting nets at the Brabourne Stadium for its practice there at the Cricket Club of India, may have been surprised to see 14 batting nets — 12 of natural turf and one each of artificial turf and cement. “The downside is playing five Tests in six weeks, so much cricket in such a short period of time, but facilities here have been fantastic, we had everything in our favour to prepare well,” said England fast bowler Stuart Broad.

Those who have experienced the net facility on the 30 acre pilot have only good words to say and this has thrilled Niranjan Shah, the long-time Secretary of Saurashtra Cricket Association. “It’s a big and ultimate occasion for us. It’s an honour for the association to be awarded Test status. My vision was to create a modern cricket stadium and I have done that. The feedback from all has been very good. England has played here before. In fact India and England played the inaugural match here, a Twenty20 international. I don't think they have any adverse thing to say,” said Shah.

Shah went on to say: “We have improved the infrastructure as per the BCCI guidelines. We have successfully run ODI, Twenty20 internationals, and also the IPL matches. So the BCCI has recognised small centres. In many countries smaller centres have Test status. I am lucky and very happy that a big match against England is going to be played. I am excited.”

Crowd ‘trouble’

It’s the lack of enthusiasm from the locals that has somewhat disappointed Shah. “The ticket sales have not been good, but in the next two days we think it will pick up. The Diwali holidays have just ended and a lot of people stay outside the city limits. Tickets are being sold online and also over the counter. The capacity is 28,000 and the association picks up 7,000 odd tickets. Out of these, nearly 4,000 tickets are given to schools. We expect around 15,000 to show up on the first day.

“We have built a stadium with a capacity that can be managed. It looks right for the size and population of the town. Even if Rajkot's population increases to two million after ten years, this stadium would suffice. We want to give more facilities to the spectators. The people should enjoy the facility and watch cricket.”

The SCA will be selling merchandise such as T-Shirts, posters, autograph books and coffee mugs to commemorate the first Test here. Teams and officials will be presented silver coins.