The Kerala Cricket Association’s plan for shifting the India-West Indies ODI from Thiruvanthapuram to a football-friendly Kochi has attracted a lot of criticism, prompting country’s top footballers to launch a protest.
BCCI awarded one of the five ODIs to KCA to be played in November. The ODI, which was supposed to be held at Thiruvanthapuram, considering that Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is used for other sports, especially football, in all probability will now be played at Kochi after a change of plan by the KCA.
Former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor has stated that the association's move was 'suspect'.
Tharoor, Thiruvananthapuram MP, said he has already spoken to Committee Of Administrators Chief Vinod Rai against the KCA's "bizarre" decision to transfer a ODI match from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi, whose ground was last used for the U-17 Football World Cup.
"He has promised to review the matter. KCA's motive is highly suspect", Tharoor had tweeted.
Spoke to CoA Chief VinodRai to denounce Kerala Cricket Assn's bizarre decision to transfer the India-WI ODI from a match-ready Trivandrum stadium to Kochi, whose ground was last used for the U17 Football World Cup. He has promised to review the matter. KCA motives highly suspect— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 19, 2018
In another tweet, the local MP thanked everyone for the outpouring of support for his firm opposition to KCA's shifting the ODI to Kochi.
"Turf laid for top-class football would have to be dug up, while a cricket-ready SportsHub stadium in Trivandrum, the best in India, lies idle. Who gains from this suspect decision?', he asked in the tweet.
Thanks for the outpouring of support for my firm opposition to KCA's shifting the WI ODI to Kochi. Turf laid for top-class football would have to be dug up, while a cricket-ready SportsHub stadium in Trivandrum, the best in India, lies idle. Who gains from this suspect decision?— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 20, 2018
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is also the home ground for ISL franchise Kerala Blasters and understandably so, their players and managers have expressed their dismay at the decision, which means the ground will have to be dug up in order lay the cricket pitch.
Blasters manager Iane Hume even started an online petition to stop the ODI being held at Kochi.
"I understand there is lot of cricket in India. But I also understand that there is lot of football in Kerala".
So having read that there’s a possibility of a ODI Cricket Match planning to be played in JLN Stadium in Kochi, I have to say this.... I was here for the 1st season of @indiansuperleague when they had 6-8 weeks to transform our field from a Cricket ground to a Football ground. They made great strides in doing so, but it was still some way off being an established field for top level football. The amount of time and money that has been spent since then, to get the pitch to the standard it is now for the U-17 @fifaworldcup and @indiansuperleague 4, it would be a travesty to tear it up for a one off cricket match! I understand the love of cricket in not just Kerala, but all of India, and I don’t want to disrespect anyone for that. But there’s a ground in Trivandrum that is Cricket specific, so why for the sake of one match, rip up a pitch that has taken years to get to the standard as one of the best in the country? Question..... Would they tear up Eden Gardens to stage a one off football match? #SaveKochiTurf ⚽️🇮🇳🐘🌴💛
Another Blasters key player C K Vineeth said the Jawaharlal Stadium in Kochi is one of six in India that are approved by FIFA, a certification that will take immense effort to obtain again.
Over the course of this week, I have read various reports that the turf at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium will be dug up to help facilitate the ODI cricket match between India and West Indies. For many different reasons, I feel this is wrong. #SaveKochiTurf pic.twitter.com/Y1RCm14Shd— CK Vineeth (@ckvineeth) March 19, 2018
When India has been known for being a 'cricket crazy' nation, is it really necessary to dig up a football pitch to play a cricket match? #SaveKochiTurf, he tweeted.
Veteran footballers I M Vijayan and C V Pappachan have also come out against the move.