Galle - The Picturesque Ground of Sri Lanka
When any cricket fan thinks about Galle International Stadium, the pictures that come to his mind are of the famous Dutch Fort and the Indian Ocean in the background. The caws of the crows and the horn of the buses are also a symbolic part of the stadium.
Galle cricket stadium has seen some very tough times in the past. Most notably being the damage caused by the tsunami on 26 December 2004. It destroyed a major part of the ground. After pondering over whether a build a new stadium at another safer location or to rebuild the old one, the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and the Government decided to go for the latter.
As it was a costly project, the board and the Government took international support. ICC and Shane Warne also contributed for the reconstruction. During the reconstruction, one of the pavilions blocked the view of the Fort, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Galle Heritage Foundation pointed out that because of the pavilion blocking the view of the Fort, it could be removed from the World Heritage site. However, later the issue was resolved and the construction was re-continued.
A large number of laborers were engaged to re-construct the stadium which was almost being built form scratch. After reconstruction, the first test match was played on 18 December 2007 between Sri Lanka and England.
An another issue which involved Galle, was the pitch curator doctoring the pitch according to the bookies. A news-broadcasting channel did a sting operation, where Galle's pitch curator was discussing with bookies to tamper with the pitch for the match against England in November 2018.
Taking immediate action, Sri Lankan Cricket Board suspended the pitch curator after the news channel broadcasted the whole video of its sting operation in May 2018. In addition, a former curator of the Galle International Stadium is already facing a three-year ban until January 2019 as he failed to cooperate with the anti-corruption investigation by ICC.
Recently, an old issue of the pavilion blocking the view of the Fort re-erupted after the conclusion of first test match between Sri Lanka and South Africa. Sri Lanka's cultural affairs minister Mr. Rakapakshe said, "The government had been left with a choice: either remain on the World Heritage list, or keep the pavilion." Further, Sri Lanka's former captain Arjuna Ranatunga suggested to demolish the current stand, and put up temporary seating when Test matches are played.
Let's hope that the issue gets resolved and the cricket fans continue to enjoy the cricket match on this picturesque ground.