THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Thiruvananthapuram could soon host first-class domestic cricket tournaments, including the Ranji Trophy, after a long hiatus as Kerala Cricket Association’s (KCA) ground at St Xavier’s College, Thumba, near here, is getting ready for action.
The cricket ground is being constructed at a cost of little over Rs 2 crore with the KCA signing a 10-year memorandum of understanding with the St Xavier’s College authorities for the utilisation of the venue.
The work on the wickets and outfield is almost complete and the construction of the gallery, pavilion and an approach road is all that is left to be done. In fact, the venue is all set to witness its first action in the last week of September with an under-25 inter-zonal match.
“We are awaiting panchayat’s clearance to go ahead with the construction of pavilion, but the stadium will be match-ready in a couple of weeks,” said Thiruvananthapuram District Cricket Association (TDCA) secretary Vinod S Kumar.
The ground will have five pitches and another one for practice that are being prepared by KCA curator A M Biju. The ground must successfully host a certain number of internal matches like inter-district and inter-zonal matches before becoming a first-class venue.
“We will host matches there starting next month and let the wicket settle down first. Then we will request the BCCI through KCA for first-class matches, including Ranji Trophy,” Vinod said. A BCCI representative will then visit the ground to inspect the facility and submit a report - the whole process, Vinod thinks, can take up to a year. The city had, during the early 2000s, hosted Ranji Trophy as well as Vijay Merchant Trophy matches at the Agricultural College Ground, Vellayani.
A formal inauguration is expected to happen along with the college’s golden jubilee celebration in December. “As part of this, we are planning to hold a Twenty20 match featuring top national cricketers,” said George Thomas, the head of the college’s Physical Education Department.
The college already has enrolled 13 cricketers of the KCA College Cricket Academy and also plans to train youngsters in under-19 and under-16 groups from the coastal region, he added.
With the Medical College and Agricultural College grounds the only venues hosting cricket matches in the city, the authorities have been finding it difficult to accommodate matches, which will now be eased by the new ground.