Sa’adi Thawfeeq, Courtesy of The Nation, 26 December 2010
Premadasa Stadium at Khettarama in silhouette, Pic by David Colin Thome
Sri Lanka Cricket maybe currently under pressure to complete the three 2011 World Cup venues before the deadlines set by the ICC, but few are aware of how they pulled off a major coup to host the ICC World Twenty20 in 2012. Sri Lanka 2011 World Cup Director Suraj Dandeniya told The Nation that Sri Lanka Cricket had a vision and a foresight when they took the decision to construct two new stadiums at Hambantota and Pallekele with lights. “The decision was taken by the Interim Committee in April 2009 and one of the main reasons was our intention to host the World T20 in 2012,” said Dandeniya.
Rajapakse Stadium at Sooriyawewa
“One of the key requirements for one nation to host a global ICC event was that it should have a minimum of four floodlit stadiums. When the decision was taken by the interim committee we had only two floodlit stadiums one in Colombo (the R Premadasa Stadium) and one at Dambulla (Rangiri Dambulla Stadium). What we thought was with Sri Lanka hosting the 2011 World Cup we could build two more floodlit stadiums and push our case to host the 2012 World T20. It was a logical decision to take at the time. On the long run it is Sri Lanka that stands to benefit. When the ICC finally decided to give it to us it was more like a major coup that we pulled off,” Dandeniya said.
Enlightening on the subject further Dandeniya stated that the ICC had certain obligations to fulfill when hosting tournaments run by them. “For instance the media box should be able to cater to a minimum of 200-250 journalists, there were 1000-1250 ICC sponsors seating and other logistical contractual obligations,” he said. Now that the next ICC World T20 tournament has been secured by Sri Lanka, Dandeniya said that it is left to the next cricket administration to upgrade Dambulla Stadium like they have the R Premadasa Stadium for the 2011 World Cup.
“Major improvements need to be done. The entire lighting system at Dambulla has to be replaced and the crowd capacity increased. It would be a virtual rebuild like the Premadasa Stadium,” he said. Despite the wave of criticism that has been leveled at the construction of the three stadiums for the 2011 World Cup (at Hambantota, Pallekele and Premadasa Stadium) Dandeniya said that he was one hundred percent confident of meeting the final deadline set by ICC.
“All three stadiums will be complete by the time the ICC delegation comes to give their final approval between January 15-25. I can assure you that there won’t be any major infrastructure development taking place,” he said. Sri Lanka is due to host 12 of the 49 World Cup matches at the three venues which includes a quarter-final and semi-final match.