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Galle – blend of Test cricket, history and natural beauty

  • Published at 10:45 pm March 10th, 2017
  • Last updated at 12:25 am March 24th, 2017
Galle – blend of Test cricket, history and natural beauty
With the Indian Ocean visible on both sides of the ground and the famous 16th-century Dutch clocktower in display, Galle's International Cricket Stadium is something special for a cricket lover. The view of the deep blue water of the Indian Ocean from the gallery or the press box will please both the cricket lovers and tourists. The waves of the Indian Ocean striking the western side of the stadium is sight to behold. With such beautiful views, the soul of any cricket lover is bound to be fulfilled. You can also watch the action while walking or driving past the ground. Before being brought up to international cricketing standards, the stadium was known as “The Esplanade”. The stadium is the home ground of Galle Cricket Club. The first Test match at this ground was played in June, 1998. New Zealand were the visiting side back then. Sri Lanka have played 28 Tests at this venue, winning 16 of them. The island nation lost six and drew as many in the remainder of the matches. The historical Dutch Galle Fort, a heritage site listed by Unesco, is just placed beside the cricket stadium and people can see the full view of the stadium from the rampant of the fort. Having experienced an entire Test between the Lankans and the Tigers in Galle, this correspondent will certainly cherish the memories for a long time to come. [caption id="attachment_51788" align="aligncenter" width="800"] A view of the Galle International Cricket Stadium from the roof top of the press box DHAKA TRIBUNE[/caption] This writer's hotel is situated inside the Galle Fort. Inside the fort, it's a different world mixed with history and culture. There are hotels, guest-houses, various restaurants, banks, museums, a library, a church and a mosque; small shops selling gems and jewellery, clothes, artefacts, paintings, and even books; and of course, residential houses. The sunset point in the fort and the lighthouse offer beautiful view of the ocean. Galle is quite memorable for Bangladesh cricket in that back in March, 2013, Mohammad Ashraful hammered a brilliant 190 at this very ground. Alongside Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim made it an occasion to remember as he became the first ever Tigers batsman to blast double hundred. Mushfiq’s double century is the seventh highest individual total at this ground while Ashraful’s 190 is the 10th highest. Chris Gayle holds the record of the highest score, his 333-run innings coming back in 2010. Bangladesh also hold the record of one of the highest team totals (638). Galle has a special place in the hearts of the Sri Lankans. Muttiah Muralidaran and later Rangana Herath inspired their side to incredible victories on turning pitches. One of the greatest off-spinners of all time, Muralidaran bagged his 800th Test wicket here in Galle in July, 2010. Muralidaran needed eight wickets to achieve the milestone and picked up exactly that amount. [caption id="attachment_51790" align="aligncenter" width="640"] A devastating tsunami hit the ground in 2004. Thousands of lives were lost during the natural disaster INTERNET[/caption] However, the stadium also has a harrowing tale as part of its history. A devastating tsunami hit the ground in 2004. Thousands of lives were lost during that natural disaster. Water came from two sides, giving thousands of people absolutely no chance whatsoever to evacuate. It was a Sunday. Most of the buildings around the stadium were damaged, and the ground was damaged substantially. In the weeks that followed, the stadium became a temporary shelter for hundreds of people displaced from the tsunami. A temporary camp and a helipad were constructed there in order to assist the survivors. The cost of reconstruction was approximately rupees 500,000,000. International support was obtained for this, and according to ESPNcricinfo, former cricketers Shane Warne of Australia and Ian Botham of England also made notable contributions. The stadium holds special memories for Warne, who bowled Australia to a 245-run victory with a 10-wicket haul in his Test comeback following a 12-month drug ban. Renovation of the Galle International Cricket Stadium began on May 8, 2006. The rebuilding work was completed in 2008 before the England series. The renovation included several new buildings, including a new pavilion and a media centre. Galle offers many things other than cricket. After watching Test cricket throughout the day, along with the mind-blowing view, a cricket lover can help oneself to traditional Lankan foods. That’s why perhaps, it is regarded as one of the most beautiful and iconic Test venues of the world.