Kolkata: It’s not only bouquets and brickbats but also bangles at Eden Gardens, recollected former India captain Chandu Borde here on Thursday.
Remembering his brush with the Eden crowd after they were handed an innings and 45 runs thrashing by the West Indies in the riot-hit 1966-67 Test, the 80-year-old former India all-rounder said: “I’m sure the Windies would have broken Olympic sprint records by the way they rushed to the team hotel after riots broke out on day two.”
“After the match ended, the fans gave us nicely gift-wrapped packets at the railway station. We readily accepted them thinking that it would be sweets. At the next stoppage, when we opened them we were shocked to find bangles!,” Borde exclaimed, adding that such was the crowd’s passion for the sport.
“I had some fine memories here, from playing my first Test at the Eden vs the West Indies. Facing Eden crowd was more scary. You had it if you misfielded one at the boundary ropes. ‘Chandu khelna chhor de’ (leave cricket), they would scream,” Borde said.
Borde said it would take them 43 hours of train journey to come to Kolkata but the pain was worth taking for the sheer thrill of playing at the Eden and coming to Kolkata.
“A friend of mine in the IFA once took me to the nearby ground to watch East Bengal-Mohun Bagan match, we sat near the ground and were enjoying the match and suddenly there were some refereeing errors and the crowd started shouting. My friend told me, ‘let’s rush out from here’. Nowhere else I noticed such love for the sport.”
The stadium’s rich history was hailed as Cricket Association of Bengal began 150 years’ celebrations of the stadium with a book and documentary launch on Thursday. Another former India all rounder Durani, who claimed eight wickets with his left-arm spin in the same Test, said his life had changed after playing at the venue.
“I was included in an inter-school Mumbai team at the last minute and played here in 1949. Eden has continued to bless and promote me since then and I’ve not looked back.”
Titled ‘Eden Gardens — Legends and Romance’, the 204-page book authored by former Bengal captain, Raju Mukherjee chronicled Eden’s journey from Calcutta Cricket Club and how it got it’s name from Emily and Fanny Eden, the sisters of Lord Auckland governor general of India from 1836-1842.
“I was going through a pavement in Dalhousie and came across this book of history of CCC by Arnab Ganguly and that was how the idea came to write a book on the Eden,” Mukherjee said.
There was also a 12-minute audio visual documentary released which was conceptualised by former Bengal captain Gopal Bose.