Former India captain Sourav Ganguly today finally joined the list of elite cricketers who have stands dedicated after them when the eastern block of the Eden Gardens here was etched in his name.
To name stadium blocks after popular personalities of that venue may be a common practice everywhere but it had been delayed at the majestic Eden Gardens as it was under lease from the Ministry of Defence, who owns the land.
Finally the hurdles were cleared and it became a reality when the black plates bearing Ganguly and former Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Jagmohan Dalmiya names were illuminated in a formal ceremony during the innings break of third and final ODI between India and England.
Ganguly, who is also the current CAB president, occupied the C-Block to the right side of BC Roy Club House, while Dalmiya was immortalised on the left of it in the L-Block.
Former India captain Kapil Dev did the honour by illuminating Ganguly’s glowing name plate with a remote from the ground.
The ceremony also felicitated India’s most successful skipper Mahendr Singh Dhoni, who was befittingly handed a citation and memento by India’s first World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev.
‘For a glorious decades of captaincy’ screamed a banner as the packed 67000-capacity crowd screamed Dhoni, Dhoni with his footage being displayed on the giant screen during the felicitation ceremony.
The Eden Gardens also gave the place of honour to Bengal’s first cricket icon Pankaj Roy, who led India once in his 43 Test appearances and was best known for his 413-run opening stand with Vinoo Mankad against New Zealand at the then Madras (Chennai) in January 1956.
It stood as a world record for over 50 years till Graham Smith and Neil McKenzie surpassed it in 2008.
Roy finally found a place as the legendary Sunil Gavaskar did the honour of switching on the LED-glowing name plate in the D-Block.
Former BCCI president BN Dutt’s name was also etched in the H-Block with former English skipper Naseer Hussain switching on the name plate lights with a remote, while Ganguly did the honour for Dalmiya.
There was a walk down the memory lane as the giant screen played the footage of the four personalities when the ceremony was going on and it was Ganguly whose name plate was switched on by Kapil in the last part with the crowd cheering ‘Dada, Dada’.
In totality, the Eden will have eight stands to be named after personalities which include two war heroes to be put forward by the Ministry of Defence.
The other two would be former cricketers JC Mukherjee and AN Ghosh and the formalities would be completed during the next international match at the venue.
“On the next match four other stands will be named after JC Mukherjee, AN Ghosh and two war heroes. The Army is yet to finalise the names of the war heroes,” Ganguly said.
“In 2009 Jagmohan Dalmiya took the initiative but the Army did not give permission. We are thankful to the Ministry of Defence to have allowed us to do so,” he added.
Ganguly thus joined the elite club of cricketers that include Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh (WACA); John Edrich and Dennis Compton (Lord’s); Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Vijay Merchant (Wankhede) who have stands named after them.
Meanwhile, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar perfor medthe Eden tradition of ringing the giant bell to signal the start of the match, something that was adopted from the iconic Lord’s.
Following the 10-year-old tradition of Lord’s, last year, Eden Gardens installed the silver coated bell under the Eden Clock and Kapil was the first to ring the bell to start the India-New Zealand second Test here from September 30-October 3.