The original 'Ring Of Fire', a moniker adopted by Dubai International Cricket Stadium for its unique floodlighting, Kolkata's Eden Gardens was literally a burning fire-pit of passion and pride. The Australian Cricket Tour To India 2001 was the last time Australia played a Test Match in this iconic cricket stadium, a famed result that lives strong in the annals of Australian Cricket disappointment.
Being invited by Australia to 'follow-on', trailing by 274 India amassed 657 in their 2nd inning leaving Australia 384 runs to win, thanks to VVS Laxman 281 and Rahul Dravid 180 batting through all of Day 4. India bowled Australia out for 212 on Day 5. The winning margin of 171 was freakishly India's 1st inning total.
With the crowd swelling to 70,000 on Day 5, Adam Gilchrist's 'King Pair' all but confirmed India's unlikely victory and the stadium erupted in a sea of ecstatic flame. Anything that could be set on fire and waved in celebration, was. It was a phenomenal spectacle, nothing I'd ever seen. Result aside, this Test Match remains one of my most passionate memories.
After an amazing 'turn-around' moment in world cricket, I'm deeply surprised and disappointed that Australia and India have not played Test Cricket at Eden Gardens since. This Test Match should have created a static fixture between Australia and India for every Test Tour that followed, but sadly not.
One thing I have noticed about Indian cricket is their lack of tradition, melancholy, and indeed marketing. The Kolkata Test was in 2001. That's it. Though Indians remember the result, they do not appear to remember the emotion. Great games simply live in the past, and the next Test is just another match played of the Indian venue lottery.
The BBCI Marketing Department should have been all over this event like a soup sandwich selling the 'passion, product, and history', of Australia vs India at Eden Gardens. Instead, we've played in Nagpur, Pune, Dharamsala, & heaven knows why Ranchi.
We nonetheless look forward with desire and expectation of playing in Kolkata again simply because it is time to do so. Our hotel is just 800m across the maidan, so you can walk to the game at your leisure. It'd be great to have 'stadium facing rooms' for the sight of Eden Gardens through the late afternoon mist and smog is as frightening as it is exciting, but we'll see! There is nothing discreet about this epic venue where we hope to play 5-days before rocking on in one great Indian city.
Dharmatala is a cool suburb. Home to big-name hotels, independent guesthouses, and institutional colonial homes, that sit with some cracking bars, restaurants, and street markets, especially on famed Park Street where you find Kolkata's nostalgic Olypub. Conversely, you can meet the scholars and book lovers along College Street, home to Kolkata's most prestigious academic institutions. Before or after the Test, conveniently some of Kolkata's most unique and must-see attractions are opposite the hotel throughout or just near the Maidan.
Victoria Memorial, St Paul's Cathedral, Princep Ghat, Fort William, Lascar War Memorial, Gwalior Monument, and gardens around the stadium are bordered by the Hooghly River. 2km in the other direction from the hotel is Mother House Of The Missionaries Of Charity, where Mother Teresa rests.
Next to Eden Gardens in Lal Bazar is Calcutta High Court, Calcutta Town Hall, St John's Church, Raj Bhavan, Custom House, and General Post Office. These architectural marvels are close to Millennium Park from where you can take both a ferry across the Hooghly to Howrah Train Station and 'illegal' photos of the iconic Howrah Bridge, though that misdemeanour may be lifted by the time we tour.
When you fly into Kolkata's Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport our hotel will collect you at any time for 8 nights, 2 dinner parties, and 5 days in 'the Garden' of this vibrant city! After one week, you may wish you had one more. Pending the result at Eden Gardens, you may wish to get out and not return for another 21 years! Join us here first and then we'll worry about whether we want to return in 4 years to this incredible city and incomparable Eden Gardens, cricket's 26th Test Venue!