The first upcoming international cricket ground which was supposed to be inaugurated in April 2020 has been postponed to 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19.
Presently, the ground is known as the Gelephu International Cricket Ground (GICG) and is located opposite to the Gelephu Higher Secondary School. The ground is facilitated with six center turf pitches and four side pitches.
Encircled within the six-acre land, the ground has got space to come up with the facilities such as a pavilion, public toilet, parking, staff cottage. Initially, the construction of the ground was started in 2016 with financial support from the Asia Cricket Council. However, due to the unavailability of clay to construct center pitches, the groundwork was upheld for almost one and a half years.
In 2019, Bhutan Cricket (BC) resumed the work with slight changes in the plans, such as removing the soil from the base and filling up with six inches river fine sand and then topping with four inches fine soil.
BC’s Chief Executive Officer said the reason for the change of outfield work is due to the weather condition in Gelephu.
“Gelephu usually receives heavy rainfall during the monsoon and it will affect the ground to get into condition to play due to heavy soil on the field. Gelephu has a similar weather condition like in Assam, so we have adopted their strategy for GICG,” he said.
He added even work was outsourced to the people from India because of the requirement of specialist for the construction of pitches and outfield work. The ground still has remaining works such as the construction of gate, parking, public toilet, sightscreen, scoreboard, nets, and pavilion.
Meanwhile, Bhutan Olympic Committee has agreed to construct toilet, gate, and parking, while for other remaining works the Bhutan Cricket is seeking loan from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“The upcoming Gelephu cricket ground will help to structure the overall cricket development plans. The ground will benefit in hosting major tournaments, development of players, coaches, and officials. So far, whatever development work BC has carried out that is on school grounds and we will continue with that,” said the BC’s CEO.
He added that if we need to be stable in the future, we need to develop good cricketers, coaches, infrastructures and start winning international matches, which means GICG will help us access to overcome.
Meanwhile, BC’s major plan in 2021 is to startup High-Performance Program (HPP), bigger leagues, and exchange programs. Therefore, they have already begun tying up with neighboring states of India (Cricket Association of Bengal, Sikkim Cricket Association, Assam Cricket Association, and North East) especially for various exchange programs where Bengal Cricket and Sikkim Cricket has agreed to provide their assistance. This means there will be more teams travelling to Gelephu to play matches and at the same time BC’s team will travel to other respective venues.
BC is also working on to introduce top 50 overs league (name not yet decided) where all the matches will be played on real turf. This league will produce pool of top players who will represent in international competitions.
Currently, after 46 days of the lockdown in Gelephu, the work of the GICG has resumed.
Yenten Thinley from Thimphu