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India vs West Indies: Eden curator stops Rohit Sharma from having look at pitch

Whenever there is an international match at the Eden Gardens, its septuagenarian curator Prabir Mukherjee finds himself in the news for all the wrong reasons and this time it was for denying India's star batsman Rohit Sharma a chance to have a look at the strip.

As is the practice among international teams, players normally want to have a look at the strip prior to a match but Mukherjee, who has been fussy about not allowing all and sundry to hover around the 22-yard strip, ticked off India's hero of the ODI series against Australia. 

Prabir Mukherjee and MS Dhoni
Curator Prabir Mukherjee with MS Dhoni at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. File Pic

Fresh from his marvellous double ton in the final ODI, Rohit got a hero's welcome as he entered the stadium but little did he expect that Mukherjee would deny him.

As Rohit came near the pitch that was fenced with a board with the instructions 'Only Captain and Coach are allowed inside', Mukherjee barred the Indian batsman from going near the strip.

Mukherjee cited ICC rules, which allows only the team captain and coach to have a look at the track.

Both Sharma and Mukherjee were seen in animated discussion, as Cricket Association of Bengal joint secretary Subir Ganguly rushed to pacify them. The cricketer returned to the nets.

"I can't go beyond the rules. Whatever there is in the ICC rules will have to be strictly adhered to," Mukherjee said after the incident.

Ganguly, however, denied any argument or heated exchange of words on the issue between Mukherjee and Sharma.

"This is a non-issue. Rohit is too nice a boy to raise his voice," Ganguly said.

Earlier in the day, Mukherjee had turned down India coach Duncan Fletcher's request for using a strip adjacent to the centre pitch for use by the bowlers.

Mukherjee again pointed to the rules and said such facilities could be given only a day before the Test match starts.

However, he later relented and allowed the pitch to be used, after an intervention by CAB officials.

Mukherjee had earlier shooed away former England skipper Mike Atherton, who too had gone close to the pitch during the India-England Test last December.

Atherton, a TV broadcaster, had tried to take a close look at the wicket, which had generated a great degree of controversy after Mukherjee slammed Dhoni for demanding a square turner, terming it "immoral and illogical".

The snubbing of Dhoni had generated a lot of controversy. Mukherjee, in charge of the Eden pitch for decades, was "sidelined" and East Zone curator Ashish Bhowmick called in to oversee the ground.

However, an intervention by CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya saw Mukherjee agreeing to continue with his duties as the curator, a post from which he had sought to be relieved following Bhowmick's arrival.

Things were settled amicably after Dhoni embraced the 84-year-old and called him "boss of Eden".

Later in the afternoon, CAB's mismanagement led to the cancellation of a scheduled media conference by explosive opener Chris Gayle due to "unavailability of space".

The West Indies presser was scheduled at 1.45 pm but it was put off as the allotted room was hosting a meeting of the Kolkata Police Commissioner along with fire brigade and CAB officials.

"We're helpless, we wanted to have it on time but the room upstairs was not available," the West Indies media manager said.

The CAB wanted to alter the schedule to evening but the Caribbean star was not available then.

"The meeting with police was planned in advance so it was difficult to put it off and we asked the West Indies team to conduct their media conference at 4.30 but Gayle was not available then," CAB joint secretary Subir Ganguly said.

Incidentally, the meeting that took place at the media conference room, was more to do with security arrangements for the upcoming Chhat Puja and the Kali Puja immersion. 

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