Foundation stone for game-changing indoor cricket training facility laid in Ri-Bhoi

Foundation stone for game-changing indoor cricket training facility laid in Ri-Bhoi

Nongpoh, May 20: On a red letter day for cricket in the North East, BCCI President Roger Binny and BCCI Secretary Jay Shah virtually laid the foundation stones of indoor cricket facilities being built in Ri-Bhoi and five neighboring states.

The location for Meghalaya’s first-of-its-kind indoor training facility, fully sanctioned by the BCCI, is at Madan Kurkalang on land provided by the Lumdaitkhla Dorbar Shnong. The formal unveiling of the Ri-Bhoi facility’s foundation stone took place today.

The infrastructure, which is targeted to be completed in September, will feature four full-length practice pitches, a swimming pool, a gym, and dressing rooms to enable year-round training, which has proven a challenge up to this point outdoors in the Abode of the Clouds.

The Meghalaya Cricket Association has also proposed residential accommodation at the site that would enable cricketers to spend long enough periods at the facility in training. It is also seeking land for a similar facility in Garo Hills.

At the historic function, today were the Honourable Cabinet Minister of Meghalaya AL Hek who was present as Advisor to the Lumdaitkhla Dorbar Shnong, MCA President Nababrata Bhattacharjee, Vice-President Rayonald Kharkamni, Honorary Secretary Gideon Kharkongor, Honorary Treasurer Dhrubajyoti Thakuria, Rangbah Shnong of Lumdaitkhla Dorbar Shnong ST Rympei, other members of the MCA, the Dorbar Shnong, the district associations and young players from around the state.

At the virtual foundation stone laying, Mr. Shah recalled how in 2017 he had pushed, with Mr. Bhattacharjee, for full membership in the BCCI for Meghalaya and five other North East states (Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim). He called on the states to use the indoor facilities to develop local talent only and Mr Bhattacharjee reiterated today the decision taken by the MCA not to use guest players in the Ranji Trophy team last season, which did not hamper the state in its march to qualify for Elite Group first-class cricket in the upcoming 2024-25 season.

Mr Binny, a former India international cricketer, said that the indoor facilities will be the “backbone” of developing cricket and “change the way you play and look at cricket and be a great boost to the younger generation coming through.”

The Honourable Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad K Sangma, was also present at the virtual foundation stone laying and said that the event was a strong message of inclusiveness for the North East, which had previously missed opportunities as the region was not at the center of cricket.

Today, Mr Kharkongor said that the BCCI Secretary and President had been gracious enough to make time for the virtual function despite their busy schedules.

He, Mr. Bhattacharjee, and Mr. Hek were all praised for the Lumdaitkhla Dorbar Shnong, which was willing and eager to partner with the MCA to see that this project came through on the 7-acre site.

“This center will enable our cricketers to compete in today’s world,” Mr. Kharkongor said. Playing days here are limited by the weather but such indoor facilities will help year-long training. The state government has offered space in Mawkhanu and we will see how to take it forward.”

Mr Hek appreciated the decision by the Lumdaitkhla authorities, calling the Dorbar Shnong “visionary” in its approach. “I admire them for their willingness to work with the MCA and BCCI,” he added.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said that the MCA is determined to continue with its local-only player policy. “Meghalaya is one of only a few states with local players only and we reached the Ranji Elite Group with locals only,” he said. “This is our commitment. We don’t mind losing but we want to promote our own.”

Looking to the future, he added, “There is a wave. In the next five years, we will have one or two players representing the country in age-category teams, either men’s or women’s. Let this message spread like a revolution through the state to build cricket. We have to take action, the time has come.”


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