Asgiriya Cricket Stadium - one of the best in the world | Daily News

Asgiriya Cricket Stadium - one of the best in the world

A general view of the Asgiriya Cricket Stadium
A general view of the Asgiriya Cricket Stadium

The Asgiriya International Stadium, located in the heart of Sri Lanka's hill-country, has helped sports in a big way, especially cricket, hockey and athletics.

Some of the world’s greatest cricketers who have visited the country have played at the Trinity College Grounds.

Among them are Sir Frank Worrell, Fazal Mohammad, Bill Lawry, Colin Cowdrey, John Edrich, Jack Hobbs, Leslie Ames, Vijay Merchant, Lindsay Hassett, Sir Learie Constantine, Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Wadekar, D. B. Vengsarkar, S. M. Patil, Sarfaz Nawaz, Moshin Khan, Ravi Shastri, Tony Greig, Madan Lal, Basil D'Oliveira, Geoff Boycott, Kapil Dev, Intikhab Alam, Majid Khan, Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Asif Iqbal, Wasim Raja, Fazal Mohamood, Greg and Ian Chappell, Dennis Lillee, Bob Simpson, Sir Richard Hadlee, Brian Lara, David Boon, Alan Border, Steve Waugh, Dean Jones, Martin Crowe and Jeff Crowe.

Famous cricket writer, Robin Marlar once said that the Asgiriya Grounds could be compared with some of the best in the world.

Once the West Indies’ fast bowler Joel Garner had said that this ground is one of the best in the world and inquired as to why international matches are not played.

This ground came alive due to the helping hand given by the white sahibs of the early days. In 1910, they gave Trinity permission to put up their own grounds.

That was during Rev. A. G. Fraser's tenure as the Principal. He was instrumental and was behind the construction of the venue.

The Trinitians started work and in 1910 it was ceremonially opened in 1915 by Sir Robert Chalmers, the Governor of Kandy on January 15, 1915.

The first Inter-Schools cricket match to be played at the Asgiriya Ground was between Trinity and S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia on February 24 and 25, 1915.

Since that time various changes have taken place at the grounds.

When Rev Fraser assumed office as Principal in 1904, he was conscious about the lack of a suitable playground with 400 students out of them 200 were boarders. The school needed a suitable cricket field and the possible site was at Asgiriya which was 300 yards away from the school. Notice of Rev. Fraser's application on behalf of Trinity, for the lease of the crown land called the Military Grounds was gazetted in Ceylon Government Gazette on May 2, 1923.

Permission was granted to the school to commence work, pending the formal execution of and indenture of lease. The Government Agent at the time had said that the annual lease rental would be Rs. 30 per annum.

Making the ground took five long years from 1909 to 1915. After 67 years, when late Gamini Dissanayake, an old Trinitian, took over the leadership of Sri Lanka Cricket, he used modern machinery and within a short period of 150 days he made it into an International Cricket Stadium.

That was in 1981. Late Minister Dissanayake was the first to put sod to start work and on January 5, 1982, the late President J. R. Jayewardene ceremonially opened the stadium.

It was when the late Rev. Dr. W. G. Wickremasinghe was the Principal that the stadium became a reality.

A modern pavilion, which has three floors, was constructed - the ground floor exclusively for players, umpires and officials with all facilities.

The other two floors were allocated to accommodate over 1,500 spectators. A well equipped media box and a modern scoreboard was also constructed.

The turf wicket was prepared by the late T. M. Omardeen under the supervision of the late Abu Fuard, who coordinated on behalf of the Cricket Board.

Old Royalist Shaw Wilson, who was Trinity cricket coach at that time, became the first curator and later Trinity's late Alex Lazarus was there for quite some time.

Former President, late J. R. Jayewardene opened the pavilion in 1982. At present, the Trinity Grounds look good for any sport.

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