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President’s Message

Jeffrey Bird

Cowbridge Cricket Club President

Last November, I had the experience of watching a morning’s play at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Bengal were hosting Madhya Pradesh in a four day fixture and play began at nine in the morning.

For some typically Indian reason, the spectators were not to be allowed officially into the stadium until 11am. Nevertheless, having given a ‘tip’ to the man on the gate, Andrea and I were able to join a crowd of fewer than we might expect to see at Cowbridge after tea for a 1st XI home game.

For a ground that was not supposed to be officially open, it was also a surprise to be invited to purchase an official scorecard. Such idiosyncrasies are part of life in India. We could only imagine what the second largest cricket ground in the world would be like when full for a One Day International.

Later in our trip, one of Kolkata’s leading racehorse trainers took us to watch his horses exercising at the Royal Calcutta Turf Club racecourse. Danny Mark was particularly keen to show us the Royal Box which apparently is kept pristine for the exclusive use of Her Majesty who has been there just twice during her entire reign. The box next door, reserved for the President of Bengal, is nothing like so grand or as clean!

Just as we do, the Test venue and the racecourse were both clearly struggling to cope with the demands of keeping a facility going. Typical of that part of the world, litter was everywhere. It was just a matter of scale.

That particular problem is not so much in evidence at home and the recently-completed landscape works at the Athletic Club have given us a much-improved aspect which will grow in grandeur as the new hornbeam hedge establishes itself. Should all the plans work out, the new scoreboard will be ready for the start of the season. We shall have a ground transformed.

However, once this phase of re-development is complete, we must turn our attention to the game itself. Recruitment of youngsters, good coaching and, perhaps, deeper partnerships with schools and other clubs must make a difference to the health of the Club and the game generally.

Facilities are important but the game itself must once again be the focus. When comparing the Indian experience with our own, it is hard initially to see any immediate parallels. However, when one starts to think about how those who run the sports there are faced with vast crowds and betting issues while our team sports are losing their attraction, the challenges are rather similar. Facilities versus coaching time; the onward march of shorter forms of the game and the changes in society that reflect themselves in sporting clubs. All these issues are as relevant in Kolkata as in Cowbridge.

Having said that, Eden Gardens is a huge concrete bowl and whatever our shortcomings there is no doubt that the sylvan surrounds of the Athletic Ground make it the place one would choose to be on a hot midsummer Saturday afternoon.

Jeffrey Bird


Renowned for its large and vociferous crowds, Eden Gardens, Kolkata, has a capacity of 68,000.It is the oldest cricket stadium in India having been established in 1864

The place to be on a sunny summer afternoon.