Taking on the challenges

Yes, I do believe in the thought that happiness can enter a man’s heart from many different facets. Sometimes this feeling develops into a trend and thus goes on to envelope a whole nation or even a sub-continent.

It was often said that "the sun never sets on the British Empire" because its span across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous territories. Upon those travails the British idealize two things that took deep root among the natives of those lands – the first was the English language and the other was the game of cricket. While watching that Indian film “Lagaan” we felt how much pride we in the Indian sub-continent took in emulating the game that the British Raj thrust upon us and how much joy we felt when we beat them at it.

To prove the facts, given below are some points that one could ponder on. India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (in that order) are three nations that have won the Cricket World Cup along with some other former subjects, while the British Raj is still striving to get a closer look at this cherished object.
Both Sri Lanka and India have become the joint holders of the ICC Champions Trophy, but still the British Raj is oblivious of what it feels like to be beholden.

Then in the Cricket T20, so far two World Cups were played and in the first one it was an India-Pakistan final in which the Indians won and in the second it was a Pakistan-Sri Lanka final in which the former won.

Going by the trend of happenings, please do not be surprised if Sri Lanka brings home the T20 World Cup in their next quest for it.

Now let the gloating of the past lie low and take stock of the situation at hand because there are serious issues that are ailing Sri Lankan cricket both administratively and on their on-field-performances.

still in its formative stages.

With barely seventeen months more to go for the first ball to be bowled in the tenth version of the Cricket World 2011, we are just about to travel and to see what’s going on.

The tenth Cricket World Cup (CWC) is the third occasion that the CWC makes its base in the Indian sub-continent. First time it was confined to the boundaries of India and in the second in 1996, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were the hosts with the two big brothers deciding to take the major share of the spoils administratively, but the then minnows Sri Lanka worked on the blind-side and sold one of the biggest dummies in cricketing history by taking the Cup home after beating the mighty Aussies in the final at Lahore. The ascendancy that Sri Lanka experienced cricket-wise is still on the rise.

Once again the collective sub-continent bid to host the cricket extravaganza was initially successful, but the volatile political situation in Pakistan has forced the giant to skip this version of it.This means that the three remaining countries will be blessed with the task of hosting more matches. Now 29 of the 49 games will be played in India, the balance of which eight were set for Pakistan, 12 will be in Sri Lanka (including four moved from Pakistan) and eight in Bangladesh (two moved from Pakistan).
A total of 13 venues will be used with eight in India, four in Sri Lanka and two in Bangladesh.

The pending cricket stadium in the South

The eight games to be played in Sri Lanka will include one semi-final and the matches are scheduled to be played in order mentioned at the R. Premadasa Stadium, Pallekelle Stadium in Kandy, Hambantota Stadium in Meegahajandura and the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium.

The big poser is whether Sri Lankans could make themselves ready for a huge challenge of this magnitude? The challenges are -

1. Developing the R. Premadasa Stadium to hold a capacity crowd of 25,000 people from its present capacity of 12,500. (This is the venue that the semi-final in Sri Lanka will be played).

2. Commissioning the Pallekelle Stadium into the shape of playing first class cricket in a year before the World Cup and then developing the facilities to suit a World Cup venue.

3. Commissioning the Hambantota Stadium and initially developing it into the shape of playing first class cricket an year prior to the World Cup and then get the facilities fit enough to hold a World Cup engagement.

4. Reconstructing the lighting system and increasing the crowd capacity from the present 12,500 at the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium.

Stories in the pipeline indicate that the ICC officials would be here in October to see for themselves and ascertain how much progress Sri Lanka has attained and if the island nation would be all hunky-dory for the grand show.

Nevertheless the Lankan SLC Interim Committee secretary Nishantha Ranatunga believes that we are on the right track and ready for the hosting of the World Cup.

He said, “For the development work that is required we worked through the Ministry of Sport and have called for tenders and the work is now in progress. That work will mainly cover the expansion work of the R. Premadasa Stadium and the Dambulla Stadium.”Ranatunga then added, “The ICC representatives will be here in October to ascertain how the progress is and see whether we can complete the work before the next World Cup”

Then speaking of the two new facilities Ranatunga said, “At Hambantota the initial work has begun and already the sprinkler system has been installed and is working and we are sure that by January next year we should have the ground ready for first class cricket. Once we get that part of the hurdle cleared the other construction work is just a formality. The same goes to the work progress at the Pallekelle Stadium too.”

Let’s hope what is put in print here will be put in practice too.

Moving on to the cricketing aspects in the limited overs version Sri Lanka is definitely not doing well as expected. In spite of the three wins against Pakistan in the recent series the Lankan show on the field has not been healthy at all and also during the past few years.

A sporadic list of wins have just kept us in front of the West Indies, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and rest of the ODI gang, but with hardly any fight against the “big boys”. In 1996 after a life time in the wilderness the Lankans just got into the groove during the last year and a half and took off with the arrival of Dav Whatmore on the scene. However the same could not be spelled against the Lankans as yet, but one could never say when a side with this experience would peak. If that could happen by February 2011 and the games being played in the Sub-continent may be, history could be repeated.

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