Kolkata: Paying glowing tribute to Eden Gardens, former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar today rated the stadium as only second-best to the iconic Lord's Cricket Ground in London.
"Eden Gardens is one of the best venues in world cricket. Of course the Lord's is the best. But Eden Gardens comes a close second. There may be a debate with CCI but I always enjoyed playing here," the Mumbaikar said in his address during a stamp release function in Eden Gardens 150-year celebration here.
Vengsarkar had scored his first Test century -- 157 not out in the second innings against the West Indies -- here in December 1978. Recalling the fond memories, he said: "I was told that you've to both bat and field well here and if you don't do that the entire stadium would be after you."
"Later in 1987, I scored a century that time as a captain. I've really fond memories of Eden Gardens and Kolkata," he said during the release about 5,000 envelopes and stamps with photos of the stadium along with its long-time president Jagmohan Dalmiya.
Vengsarkar was also all praise for Dalmiya and said the former ICC and BCCI president was one of the greatest administrators. "Dalmiya has always helped cricketers and the game as well. He's one of the best administrators the world has ever seen."
Another former Indian great EAS Prasanna also heaped praises Dalmiya. "An old saying goes, out of sight is out of mind but I think the only association which does not believe in that is CAB. I always believe that CAB with Dalmiya has been a great motivator and a person who inspired not only the cricketers from Bengal but all the cricketers of India during the time when he was the president."
"It's a fitting tribute to Dalmiya to come out with a stamp in his honour. In reality, it's a tremendous achievement." He further rued that cricketers in Karnataka don't get as much recognition as they get in Bengal."
"Honestly, we don't get so much recognition as we get in Kolkata. In Bangalore, I keep telling them if at all we have to cultivate the culture, you have to cultivate the culture of Bengalis."
"The hospitality culture in Bangalore is unbelievably low. The warmth and the likeness the Kolkatans exhibit is beyond me." The function was also attended by former West Indies pacer Michael Holding, who hoped that Test cricket also lives long, similar to that of Eden Gardens.
"Hopefully there will be another 150 years of Test cricket and not just other things. 150 years is a very very long time. Not too many associations or companies last so long. To have been successful for so long is a big fillip to the Eden Gardens."