Looks like the BCCI and the MCA are headed for a showdown.
The Mumbai Cricket Association’s managing committee, which met on Saturday, has proposed to shift the second warm-up match involving the visiting England side from its facility at the Bandra-Kurla Complex to Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium.
Alastair Cook & Co are scheduled to play a couple of three-day games in the city, ahead of the four-match Test series. The iconic Brabourne Stadium will host the first match (October 30-November 1), while the second will be played from November 3 to 5.
Earlier this week, a recce team from the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had visited both the venues. According to MCA officials, the team wasn’t happy with the BKC facility. As reported by DNA on Wednesday, MCA president Ravi Savant had written to the BCCI, requesting the match be moved to Navi Mumbai.
“There are a couple of reasons why we want the match to be shifted from BKC to DY Patil Stadium. The first reason is there is no fence on the boundary of the BKC ground. This could prompt spectators to jump into the playing area,” Savant had said.
Savant also told this paper during an interaction on Thursday that the police department isn’t ready to provide bandobast for the match. “The police told us they had a tough time manning the area when Formula One ace Lewis Hamilton was in the city recently. One must realise that every stadium has at least two screening points — one at the main entrance and the other at the stand/pavilion entrance. There is no such luxury at our BKC venue. And don’t forget Bharat Nagar and Kurla are notorious areas,” Savant said.
Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium is scheduled to host a Test match (November 23-27) as well as a Twenty20 match (December 22) and that’s another reason why Savant wants the practice match to go to Navi Mumbai. “Mumbai will host a practice game, a Test and a Twenty20. Our fans won’t be deprived of quality cricket. We want people in and around Navi Mumbai to watch the England team in action. That area is also under our jurisdiction,” Savant added.
When contacted, a top BCCI official rubbished the MCA’s suggestion. “How can they raise an issue now?” a top BCCI official fumed. It is an ICC-approved venue which hosted a few warm games ahead of the 2011 World Cup. And don’t you remember that the BKC ground had hosted the visiting Sri Lankan side (vs Board President’s XI) in 2009,” the official added.
It is believed the ongoing fracas is due to Savant’s rivalry with Ratnakar Shetty, who till recently, was the chief administrative officer of the BCCI. Shetty, a former MCA vice-president, was eased out by Savant from the association and the BCCI official, looking after the board’s cricket operations, is sticking to the original plan, a stand that is against the changed position of Savant.
Another BCCI official this paper spoke to said the BCCI had signed a memorandum of understanding with the ECB. “The MoU was signed long back and the case is closed. There won’t be a change of venue,” he said.
It is also learnt that the MCA president has written a letter to BCCI president N Srinivasan, requesting that the match be moved out of BKC. “The DY Patil Stadium is a world-class venue and the owners of the stadium have promised to provide the best of facilities to players and officials,” another MCA official said.
Interestingly, the Navi Mumbai venue is owned by Vijay Patil, who is an MCA vice-president. The stadium is named after his father, a Congress leader who is now the governor of Tripura.