Rex Clementine in Island, 1 May 2020 where the title reads “Galle voted world’s best cricket ground ahead of Lord’s”
Galle International Cricket Stadium has been voted as the best cricket ground in the world ahead of home of cricket – Lord’s and other leading international cricket grounds. In a survey conducted by cricket statistician Jarrod Kimber through twitter, an audience from all over the world voted and Galle earned the top price.
Galle became an international venue in 1998 and was the overwhelming favourites in the poll receiving almost double the amount than Lord’s in the final countdown. Galle secured 66% of the votes compared to Lord’s that polled 34%.
London’s iconic cricket ground and Galle came to the final round after being shortlisted alongside MCG in Australia and Newlands in South Africa. Altogether 16 leading cricket grounds were chosen for the poll. It included MCG, WACA, Adelaide Oval and SCG from Australia, the Wanderers and Newlands from South Africa, Dharamsala, Eden Gardens and Wankhede from India, Antigua Recreation Ground and Queens Park Oval from West Indies, Basin Reserve and Eden Park from New Zealand, Lord’s and The Oval from England.
Over the years, many international stars have chosen Galle as their favourite cricket ground and world’s highest wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan opted to retire at this venue.
The stadium has the Old Dutch Fort at the backdrop and beside that the Indian Ocean. The Old Dutch Fort built in 1649 has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sri Lanka Cricket has invested heavily on the ground and recently spent Rs. 25 million to upgrade facilities. The venue primarily hosts Test match cricket but occasionally hosts ODIs too. The first Test between England and Sri Lanka was set to be played in Galle on the third week of March but the series was postponed after outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
ADDENDUM …. Some Thoughts from Michael Roberts
After the ground was swamped and damaged by the tsunami, SL’s cricket boss Thilanga Sumathipala developed ambitious plans to construct a large stadium on the periphery of Galle town. fortunately, Michael Morris Lord Naseby intervened and scuttled that idea by persuading the MCC to donate 55,000 pounds for the renovation of the Galle Esplanade grounds (see Naseby, Paradise Lost. Paradise Regained, London, 2020, p. 133).
Whether Kumar Sangakkara’s deep attachment to the Fort and its environs and his happenchance role as the President of the MCC this year had any influence on the Vote is anybody’s guess (probably not though).
Since I played all my school cricket and all my soccer on the “Galle Esplanade” (the standard term used in the 1950s), my voice here is partisan. Let me underline that dimension by adding some illustrations.
Contrast these recent shots with those presented after the tsunami and one classic pic from the late 19th century.
… AND …. within the Fort