July 19, 2001

Dambulla matches called off by government

Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium
The three Coca Cola Cup matches scheduled to be played in the Dambulla International Cricket Stadium next week have been cancelled on the advice of government authorities.

Interim Committee Secretary, Kushil Gunasekara, said this morning that the three matches will now be played at R. Premadasa Stadium, but will not be played under floodlights.

The decision to cancel the matches came from the Sports Ministry and not from the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka.

Speaking today, the Sport Ministry Secretary, Dr. Prathap Ramanujan, explained that: "We have received information that some people are going to seek an injunction just before the match to disrupt the games."

The threat of an injunction arises because the Sri Lankan board still owes the construction company, Sierra Constructors, outstanding monies and is unable to make the final payments until allegations of financial mismanagement have been properly investigated.

Board sources claimed their hands were tied by the Attorney General's Department, who had ordered the payment freeze.

Sierra Director, Priyantha Perera, though claims that even if the outstanding bills are not settled before the matches at Dambulla, they would not sabotage the matches: "This is an issue of national importance. We have no intention of disrupting the games. We have confirmed to the Cricket Board that they can go ahead with the matches and we'll not take any legal actions".

Perera was unimpressed by the Sport Ministries intervention: "Our agreement is with the Cricket Board. We have nothing to do with the Sports Ministry or the Minister."

Sierrra Constructors signed the contract in building the stadium with the previous Executive Committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka headed by Thilanga Sumathipala. The stadium was constructed in an astonishing 165 days, costing approximately 400 million rupees (USD $4.5 million)