Premadasa Stadium will look a picture
R. Premadasa International Cricket Stadium where World Cup 2011 matches
will be played under lights, work is going apace and when completed will
look a picture.
I took a stroll round the stadium before the start of the Second Test
between West Indies and Sri Lanka and there were men and machinery hard
at work and the doubting Thomas' will be hit for six once the stadium is
completed on schedule.
I had difficulty in locating the new Media Box. I imagined that the
old Media Box was renovated and walked that way. I bumped into former
Maharaja Organisations's, Moratuwa Sports Club and Saracens SC dashing
opening batsman Srinath Silva who directed me to where the new Media Box
has been built.
While taking in the action in the new Media Box, in walked Suraj
Dandeniya the ICC Director Operations and former Thomian and Sinhalese
Sports Club cricketer who is busy as a bee these days keeping an eye on
and seeing that the work goes on come sun or rain.
'The ICC gave us a deadline. We are on rails and by December 30 the
Stadium will be fully completed, with only the final touches remaining.
That will be no problem and when the World Cup games are called 'play',
the stadium will be the envy of many.
'I am delighted with the manner in which the work is going on. All
involved in seeing the stadium being completed are putting their
shoulders to wheel are pushing determined to complete the stadium on
'Not only the R. Premadasa Stadium, but also the Sooriyawewa Stadium
in Hambantota, President Mahinda Rajapaksa's gift to the game and the
Pallekelle Stadium will be ready for play when 2011 World Cup playing
time comes around and it will even surprise the ICC', said Dandeniya.
Dandeniya further said that the VIP enclosures and the players
dressing rooms are in topping condition. The turf wickets and the
grounds are in top playing conditions and only the stands are to be
completed. That will all be done and we will have all stadiums completed
We will deliver
'We gave that promise to the ICC and we will deliver', said Dandeniya
with a twinkle in his eye, before leaving to check on the work that was
going on uninterrupted, even after the heavy rains that had made the
approach roads muddy.
Overall improvement with extra tiers at spectator stands to house 35
thousand spectators, construction of private spectators boxes with extra
tiers at the old press box, brand new pres boxes with camera decks,
radio commentator boxes, TV commentator boxes and seating for 250 print
journalists together with dining facilities and a state-of-the-art
operation room for host broadcaster.
The entire paying area was elevated by three feet with ten center
wickets newly laid. To construct and put in place the above facility was
no easy task. One must give credit to Dandeniya who took an enormous
risk by putting into place the basic facility working almost 24 hours a
day to give the national team an opportunity of playing a Test at this
The press box had its limitations. However with the likeable media
manager Brian Thomas life becomes easy. He made all juniors comfortable,
used his charm to calm nerves of many a scribe.
When play was called off on the second day of the Windies Sri Lanka
Test at the R.P. Stadium, juniors were asked to come to the grand stand
for the post match press quotes with Thilan Samaraweera and Kemar Roach.
It was raining so heavily hence the media decided to send 'BT to get
the quotes, because he was the only guy with an umbrella. He came back
after recording the quotes and asking pertinent questions from both
'BT's effort was highly appreciated. I suppose he has the added
advantage of asking questions on the day's play thanks to his experience
as a former Sirasa TV anchor who hosted a cricket show for Sisara not so
long ago which was very popular.
Great effort by Abeynaike
Former left-arm spinning allrounder and Sri Lanka cricketer Ranil
Abeynaike reached a land mark when in the on going Test series between
Sri Lanka and the West Indies he completed 25 years as an international
TV cricket commentator.
Abeynaike played for the country in the pre-Test era and was an
excellent allround cricketer. He bowled vicious left arm spinners and
was a more than reliable right hand batsman. He learnt his basics in the
game at school by the sea STCML meeting with success and captaining his
school in 1972 and'73. He also won the Schoolboy Cricketer 'award' and
was also Best Bowler.
Abeynaike played for the Sinhalese Sports Club and was vice captain
of the team and deputy captain when Duleep Mendis and Sidath Wettimuny
were on national duty. He represented Lever Bros and the Maharaja
Organisation in Mercantile cricket.
Reams and reams
Abeynaike's achievements in the game and broadcasting will need reams
and reams of newsprint to record but suffice to say that he started his
innings in broadcasting on radio for SLBC in domestic games in 1983.
As a TV commentator he has worked for Sri Lanka Rupavahini
Corporation, Ten Sports, World Sports Group, Nimbus - Neo Sport - ESPN
Star, Wild Track Productions, TWI and Sky TV.
Abeynaike has what it takes to do his thing and his descriptions have
been well received by TV viewers. He has commented in Sri Lanka, India,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Abu Dhabi, England, South Africa and Canada.
He is now behind the mike with Tony Cozier, Ian Bishop, Roshan
Abeysinghe, Russel Arnold and Tom Moody keeping viewers glued to their
TVs with expert descriptions in the ongoing Sri Lanka - Windies Test
We wish Abeynaike who we had the opportunity of playing against in
Sara cricket, a longer and fruitful innings behind the mike.