The first International cricket match was played at the Galle Esplanade in 1952 against MCC. The Galle Cricket Club now 143 years old is one of the oldest and famous cricket clubs in Sri Lanka affiliated to Sri Lanka Cricket as a Controlling Club.
The First Test Match in Galle was played in 1998 between New Zealand and Sri Lanka which Sri Lanka won with former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene scoring a brilliant 167 runs. Sri Lanka has to-date played 31 Test matches at this famous venue with a number of records broken including many noteworthy performances.
The Galle cricket stadium is one of the most picturesque Test venues in the whole world and is in the best located place in Galle town with free movement of vehicular traffic around the stadium overlooking the famous Galle Dutch Fort. It is a haven for tourists who witness international games and roam the Galle Town.
This is a time when the leading Galle schools such as Richmond, Mahinda and St. Aloysius play a dominant role in school cricket. They have produced several National cricketers at all levels in the recent past. It is significant to mention it was under the captaincy of Suranga Lakmal, a proud product of Richmond College, Sri Lanka beat South Africa last week in the First Test played at Galle Cricket Stadium. At a time when Provincial cricket is being mooted by SLC it would be a shame if the game is affected by the loss of a Test venue in the South. The game of cricket has a history of more than 200 years in our country and is an integral part of sport. The Galle Stadium under such circumstances should at all costs be maintained as a Test Venue satisfying whatever
criteria laid by the UNESCO authorities and with the co-ordination of the Government, SLC, UDA and the Galle Municipal Council. A balance need to be struck between heritage and sport through negotiation to retain both aspects important to our beautiful island.
Let us hope that sanity prevails and cricket will flourish in this famous venue for the greater good of the game.
the writer is a former official of Sri Lanka Cricket having held the posts of secretary and treasurer on numerous occasions