June 7, 2002

BCCSL request venue change for ICC Champions Trophy

Sri Lankan cricket officials have requested that the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy in September be staged at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, Sri Lanka's newest and most controversial cricket venue.

The interim committee running the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) has spoken to the International Cricket Council and is now awaiting a response.

Previously, all the matches had been scheduled to be played in Colombo, at the Sinhalese Sports Club and Premadasa International Stadium, primarily to ease the logistical difficulties of hosting 12 teams and broadcasting 15 days of cricket in 18 days.

But the interim committee would prefer the matches to be staged at Dambulla, situated in a dry zone, to safeguard the tournament against the threat of an early north-eastern monsoon, and to take cricket to the rural outstations, helping to spread the game.

The eco-friendly stadium was built in just 161 days and staged its inaugural international match against England in March 2001. However, soon after that game, the stadium became the focus of a government led investigation into the cricket board after allegations of mismanagement.

With payments to contractors then frozen, the final construction work was not completed and the stadium was placed under lock and key. The deadlock rumbled on for nearly a year, with confusion over the legality of the lease with the Buddhist temple owning the land prolonging the dispute.

Finally, earlier this year, the BCCSL was cleared to pay outstanding bills owed to contractors, paving the way for international cricket to return. Since then authorities have been understandable keen to utilise a facility that has drained significant financial resources.