Tsunami Windfall: New Surrey-SLC cricket ground at Maggona … Two perspectives

Ranjan Paranavithana, in Lakbima News,http://www.lakbimanews.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1473:sri-lankas-wonderful-ground&catid=49:sports&Itemid=49

Let’s talk about the opening of the new cricket ground in Maggona today. But what is strange with this ground is, before today it has been declared open twice. And this is the third time. Surrey Village in Maggona where this cricket ground is, was built after the 2004 tsunami catastrophe. After the tidal wave disaster Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) set up ‘Cricket Aid’ to help the affected parties. And they entered into an agreement with England’s Surrey County where they agreed to build a village with some cricket background at a place affected by tsunami.
In July 2007 work at Maggona began. The plan was to build 39 houses with a ground so youth in the vicinity could use it. Surrey Cricket Club in England promised a grant of 85 million rupees. Then Surrey CC’s CEO Paul Sheldon declared open the houses and a half finished ground in February 2008. Then in June 2009 President Mahinda Rajapaksa declared open the ground and the turf wicket. But sadly till today no matches have been played there.
In the meantime part of the ground had to be done again following an earth slip. SLC made an estimate of 80 million rupees to re-do the ground and they spent 15 million. Some 20 million was spent on side-screens. But all these amounts and figures are questionable. And saying the soil put on the ground was not suitable SLC changed the soil twice-here again controversy surrounds it all.
As per the original agreement with Surrey CC, people from the vicinity should be given employment at the ground. But the Interim Committee running cricket not giving two hoots to the agreement appointed a person from Anuradhapura as the manager of the ground.


Sheldon opens Surrey Cricket Village at Maggona
Ravi Ladduwahetty in Daily News, 16 May 2011

The Surrey Cricket Village, built at a cost of Sterling Pounds 500,000 under the aegis of the Surrey Cricket Club’s charity program for 2004 tsunami victims, at Maggona was formally opened yesterday. This has been one of the pet projects in our providing assistance to tsunami affected areas and out of the 2.5 million Sterling Pounds that we have given
away for charities for victims of natural disasters, around 800,000 Pounds have been given to Sri Lanka, Chairman of the Oval Relief Trust and Surrey County
Cricket Club CEO Paul Sheldon told Daily News at the Hilton, Colombo last night. This is a pioneering project and we have also built 50 houses in the area also
for tsunami victims, he said.

The fund raiser for Maggona ground in 2005 was an international cricket match between an Asian XI led by the iconic Sachin Tendulkar which had Indian skipper  Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitheran while the International XI was led by Shane Warne. He also said that it was timely that the ground and the village was opened yesterday at a time when Sri Lanka is touring England and England will also play Sri Lanka here in 2012, he said.

He also noted that the village and the cricket ground would also be good for youth matches. Sheldon, in his opening remarks at the launch of the Surrey Cricket Village, said: “Just over six years ago, I stood on this very place when it was dense bush as far as I could see. I had to return to draw the possibility of establishing the Surrey Cricket Village which would rehouse some of these poor people who have lost their loved ones and their homes in the tsunami. But to build a cricket ground to allow the local villagers to have a
facility to play and enjoy cricket which they otherwise would not have had. This is a dream come true.” He also said that cricket could bridge boundaries across the world and it unites different cultures, races and religions. It also brought together the people of Surrey, and the people of Sri Lanka in the most special way.

The ground was opened with Sri Lanka Cricket Chairman D.S. De Silva bowling the first ball to Sheldon. Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga and a large number of Cabinet Ministers were also present at the occasion.

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