The recent name change of Sardar Patel Stadium to Narendra Modi Stadium at Motera in Ahmedabad has given rise to a question. Why in India there is not a single Cricket stadium named after a cricketer, while this country preaches Cricket as its religion and considers cricketers as God?
As Ishant Sharma bowled the first delivery of the Test match between India and England, it happened to be the cricketing inauguration of the world’s largest Cricket stadium. Earlier, in February 2020, the stadium at Motera with a seating capacity of 1,10,000 spectators, was thrown open to the public but that was through a political event. But this time it is only Cricket at the Sardar Patel Stadium, that is revamped and renamed as the Narendra Modi Stadium.
The idea to renovate the original stadium was proposed by Narendra Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat and President of Gujarat Cricket Association. In October 2015, the stadium was demolished to allow construction, though it was cited as renovation. The stadium was completely rebuilt by February 2020, with an estimated cost of 800 crore rupees.
Motera Stadium witnessed some of the most special cricketing moments. It is on this ground that Sunil Gavaskar became the first batsman to score 10,000 Test runs. It is here where the other great, Kapil Dev surpassed Sir Richard Hadley’s record to become the highest wicket taker. The master blaster Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test double hundred on this ground.
These watershed moments made Motera one of the iconic stadiums of India. Yet the refurbished stadium did not get a new name after any of our legendary cricketers although it could have been a fitting tribute to our cricketers and Cricket as a whole.
India has as many as 24 international Cricket grounds which are currently operational. But none of these stadiums has a name related to cricketers. Let us look at the names of some of our cricketing grounds and the history behind their names –
Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
Formerly known as Sardar Patel Stadium, the stadium at Motera in Ahmedabad became Narendra Modi Stadium. It was referred to as a tribute to Narendra Modi as President Ram Nath Kovind stated, “This stadium was conceptualised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was president of the Gujarat Cricket Association at that time.”
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
The Lord’s of the subcontinent, Eden Gardens was established in 1864. It takes its name from the Eden sisters of Lord Auckland, the then Governor General of India. The ground was gifted by Babu Rajchandra Das, one of the Zamindars of Kolkata, to Viceroy Lord Auckland Eden and his sister Emily Eden after they helped him by saving his 3rd daughter from a fatal disease. From then the garden’s name was changed from Mar Bagan to Auckland Circus Garden and later to Eden Gardens.
M A. Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
The stadium located at Cheepuk in Chennai was named after former BCCI President M A Chidambaram. It is said that Chidambaram played a significant role in the negotiations between the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association and the Madras Cricket Club over the construction of this stadium.
Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi
The Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) declared to rename the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground in Delhi as Arun Jaitely Stadium, in honour of the late Union Minister and former DDCA President Arun Jaitley. The decision to change the name was criticised by Indian spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi who in protest asked the association to remove his name from the spectator’s stand, while renouncing his membership from DDCA.
Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai
The historic Brabourne Stadium was built on 90,000 square yards which came into existence in 1937. Lord Brabourne was instrumental in getting the acquisition of this ground and laid its foundation stone in 1936. He chose immortality for himself as the ground was named after him.
The Green Park, Kanpur
The Cricket stadium in Kanpur that has regularly hosted international cricket matches in both Test and One Day format, was named after Madam Green who used to practice horse riding here in the 1940s.
Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
Established in 1969, M. Chinnaswamy Stadium was formerly known as the Karnataka State Cricket Association Stadium. It was later rechristened in tribute to Mangalam Chinnaswamy who donated land for stadium and was also president of the BCCI.
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
The breeding ground of most famous cricketers of India, Wankhede stadium got its name from Sheshrao Wankhede, the President Barrister of the Mumbai Cricket Association.
Barabati Stadium, Cuttack
The Barabati stadium was established in 1958 after a fascinating history. The stadium was built through one-rupee contributions made by the public through a lottery, named Barabati Raffle. Bhairab Mohanty was the person who is believed to have conceived the lottery idea. When the stadium was opened it was no surprise that it was named as Barabati Stadium.
I S Bindra Stadium, Mohali
Popularly known as Mohali Stadium, this ground was rechristened as Punjab Cricket Association Inderjit Singh Bindra Stadium in 2015. I S Bindra was one of the foremost Cricket administrators of India whose contribution to Punjab Cricket is vast.
Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy International Cricket Stadium, Vishakhapatnam
The stadium in Vishakhapatnam came into existence in 2003 and hosted its first international match in 2005. In 2009, Andhra Cricket Association renamed ACA-VDCA cricket stadium as Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy International Cricket Stadium to honour the state’s 14th Chief Minister who mysteriously went missing during a helicopter ride and was later reported dead.
Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium – Hyderabad
When established in 2003, the stadium was named as Visakha International Cricket Stadium as Vishakha Industries Limited won the auction for building the stadium. However, Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy , the then Chief Minister of the state decided to change the name of the stadium to Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium .
Holkar Stadium, Indore
Earlier known as Maharani Usharaje Trust Cricket Ground, the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association renamed it in 2010 as Holkar Stadium to pay respect to the Holkar dynasty that ruled Indore State, the princely state from where Indore came into existence as a city.