Shillong, Oct 20: The BCCI’s General Manager of cricket operations Saba Karim (fourth right) visited Meghalaya over the weekend to assess existing infrastructure and preparation for the season.

Karim, a former India wicketkeeper who has played 15 Tests and more than 360 one-day internationals, said he was happy to see the state progressing well in terms of performance, with the women’s team defeating Assam in the senior category the other day being a prime example.

The BCCI has supported the improvement of the grounds in Shillong and Tura. In Shillong the new dressing rooms, dining room and umpires’ room are complete. The irrigation system with automatic sprinklers has been installed and the pitch and outfield will be complete by December. Work on the indoor cricket facility, which was inaugurated by Sourav Ganguly earlier this year will commence after the BCCI’s annual general meeting is held, Karim said.

Before Shillong could ever possibly hold an international cricket match many factors would have to be addressed and a proper cricket ground is only one of them.

“The main reason for building a cricket stadium is to have big games. But besides the stadium you need to build a lot of other infrastructure and this requires government support,” Karim told reporters.

A five-star hotel and airport are a must if the Indian cricket team is ever to show up in Shillong, with Karim adding, “Unless the related infrastructure comes up then a stadium (a long-held dream of the Meghalaya Cricket Association) will become a white elephant and we don’t want to see that happen.”

“The construction of a stadium is definitely our long term plan,” MCA Honorary Secretary Gideon Kharkongor said. “In the short term we are looking to build more cricket centres around the state. This is our top priority at the moment.”

Meanwhile, former MCA Honorary Secretary Naba Bhattacharjee said that the BCCI will subsidise 50% of the cost of a stadium’s construction, but that this is “subject to the initiative of the state cricket association.”

(Photo contributed by the Meghalaya Cricket Association)

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