Australian businessman calls for aid January 3, 2005

Plea to help rebuild Galle Stadium

Cricinfo staff

The cricket ground at Galle in the aftermath of the tsunami © Getty Images
An Australian businessman based in Sri Lanka has called on Australians to help rebuild Galle International Stadium which was devastated by last week's tsunami. Eight days after the disaster, the ground is almost entirely wrecked, with many of the stands gone and the playing area strewn with debris.

"Basically, the cricket ground has largely been destroyed. That was one of the places where the major water hit," Karl Steinberg, the owner of the Galle Fort Hotel, told AAP. "With the cricket ground, the water came in from both sides. It came around the port and met in the middle of the cricket ground and the bus stand. That's why there was so much devastation in that area. "So the ground itself is destroyed, the fence is destroyed, parts of the grandstand are destroyed."

While all efforts concentrate on the human disaster - Between 5,000 and 10,000 people are thought to have perished in the gigantic waves which hit Galle - Steinberg said that rejuvenation of the ground could be a vital symbol of hope for the people of the city and Sri Lanka.

"If people could actually re-grass that, repaint and restructure the cricket ground, and put the fence up again, that would be a great symbol to Galle that things can be done," he explained. "What we need is some people who understand cricket pitches and cricket grass.

"The really inspiring thing about Australians helping will be that Australians have always played here and the Australians are seen as great contestants and great heroes here, especially the battle between and Warney and Murali, the great international battle. The other thing is that it would be something that would have enormous impact very quickly. It would be a fantastic symbol to the town that people cared and that the cricket community cared as well."

Steinberg added that it would be fitting if the ground could be used for an international fundraiser, along the same lines as the game scheduled for Melbourne on January 10. "If people rebuilt the ground and then had a match, that would be a true symbol to the international community that Sri Lanka was on its way back," he explained. "It's exactly what it needs right now."