Shammi Silva eyes a World Cup — to win and host
Shammi Silva, the newly-elected president of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) yesterday said that beside winning a World Cup, his priority would be to kickstart the suspended new stadium project in Diyagama to give Sri Lanka an opportunity to host another World Cup.
A new facility in Colombo will be of benefit in the long run when bidding for hosting rights of ICC tournaments, he said.
“We missed the hosting of the 2026 World Cup, because we do not have enough grounds,” said Silva, who was elected uncontested for a record third term in office.
“This is why we were trying to construct a new stadium in Diyagama. However, our plans were quashed by certain people. If we had five grounds, we would have got that opportunity. So I want Sri Lanka to get that opportunity of hosting another World Cup”.
When the multi-million dollar project was announced in 2020, it led to a huge social media outcry forcing its suspension after then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa gave heed to those campaigning against the initiative.
Led by former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardena, several cricketers protested against the proposed complex on the grounds that the funds would be better spent on development of the sport than dumped on costly infrastructure that would bring scant returns on investment.
For the greater good of the game, they said all efforts should be channelled to construct more turf wickets and improve infrastructure like swimming pools and indoor nets to existing venues in the country.
The project was suspended after the Prime Minister met stakeholders along with Jayawardena, Roshan Mahanama and SLC office-bearers who had been vocal against the project.
Sri Lanka has four venues with facilities to host day-night matches. Apart from Kettarama Stadium, floodlight facilities are available at Hambantota, Dambulla and Pallekele Stadiums and Silva believes constructing one at Diyagama will help them win the right to host another World Cup.
The stadium was to be built on a 26-acre land allocated by the Government around the proposed Sports Complex at Diyagama. Once completed, it was to be the country’s biggest floodlit stadium with a 50,000-seater capacity. The SLC Executive Committee has earlier approved the project on the grounds that such facilities were needed to stage global International Cricket Council (ICC) events despite concerns about viability and timing.
“We have not spoken to the President yet but I think he also wants to complete the Diyagama Stadium. We will make our proposal to him and once we complete the project, we have fulfilled the ICC requirements to host a World Cup,” Silva maintained.
According to the initial proposal submitted by M/s Arch International (Pvt) Ltd at the time, the facility was to include a playing field of natural turf wickets, pavilions including VVIP boxes, synthetic wickets, outdoor practice nets, indoor net halls, changing rooms, player dugouts, gym and rehabilitation centre, swimming pool, media centre, office space for SLC and many more.
Speaking on their desire to win another World Cup, Silva said they were working to make Sri Lanka a competitive side.
“Our priority is to win a World Cup again,” he said. “We have played good cricket, not like some other countries who doctor wickets for their advantage”. Though Sri Lanka has shown some progress in Test and T20 cricket, they are far from being a competitive team in the ODI format. This has forced them to play a qualifying round to earn one of the two remaining spot for this year’s World Cup in India. Sri Lanka last won a world cup in 2014 when they clinched the T20 World Cup.
At the elective AGM yesterday Silva was made SLC president. He and all his previous set of office-bearers took office -uncontested at the elective AGM held at a Colombo hotel yesterday. The committee will hold office for two years.
Silva’s faction, which includes vice-president Ravin Wickramaratne and Jayantha Dharmadasa, and secretary Mohan de Silva, did not face any challenges in this election as those who have submitted nominations withdrew from the race. The only change from the previous committee was former Asst. Treasurer Sujeewa Godaliyadda replacing former treasurer Lasantha Wickremasinghe who withdrew his nomination on personal grounds. However, SLC president said Wickremasinghe will be nominated to the post of Asst. Treasurer.
Their reelections come in the backdrop of an ICC investigation into the alleged political interference by the country’s Sports Minister. Imran Khwaja, the Deputy Chair of the ICC held talks with top government officials, including President Ranil Wickremasinghe and Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe during his two-day fact-finding mission last week.
Following his visit both parties reached an amicable settlement that allowed SLC to go ahead with yesterday’s election of office bearers.
|SLC’s office bearers until May 2025|