Cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka and has a history dating all the way back to 1832, which is nearly 2 centuries ago! November 1832 was when the Colombo Cricket Club was formed, after which many domestic matches were played. In 1975, Sri Lanka made its debut in one day international cricket and in 1981, it joined Test cricket. Sri Lanka is now one of the ten countries that play test cricket and one of the five countries that has won a cricket world cup.
Up until today, several legendary players have evolved from the Sri Lankan cricket team, many who have created world records. Any cricket fan around the world surely knows how valuable the sport of cricket is in Sri Lanka and would love to explore cricket in Sri Lanka during their next holiday. Here are some highlights of what cricket fans can do in Sri Lanka:
1. Visit international cricket stadiums – where history was created
Sri Lanka now hosts many beautiful international cricket stadiums which you could visit and experience what it would be like to be a part of history in the making.
- Pallekelle cricket stadium (Kandy) is one of the two newly built stadiums for the cricket world cup held in 2011. Designed after an inspiration from the Supersport Park in Centurion, South Africa, this premiere stadium holds the record of being the third stadium to see a wicket fall off the first ever ball that was bowled here!
- Dambulla cricket stadium lies amidst the historical ruins in Sri Lanka and holds a record of being built within 167 days. The main purpose of having a stadium here is to host matches during the wet season that affects other parts of the country. Currently only day matches are being held due to some faults in the floodlights needed for day/night matches.
- Mahinda Rajapaksa International cricket stadium (Hambantota) has a seating capacity of 35000 people and saw its first international match being played in February 2011. This is the other one of the two new stadiums built for the 2011 cricket world cup and is the second largest stadium in Sri Lanka.
- Galle International stadium is one of the most picturesque grounds in the world, being surrounded on either side by the Indian Ocean. 30 Test matches and 6 ODI matches have been played at these grounds.
- Premadasa Cricket stadium (Colombo) is one of the oldest, yet largest cricket stadiums in Sri Lanka. The first match played here was in 1986 and one of the most popular records made here is the highest Test total: 952 for 6 scored by Sri Lanka against India in 1997-98, during which Sanath Jayasuriya scored a whopping 340 runs!
2. Stand a chance to meet popular/favorite cricketers
Are you a fan of Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Roshan Mahanama, Marvan Atapattu, Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda De Silva, Kumar Sangakkara or Mahela Jayawardena? Well all these players live in Sri Lanka and if you are really keen, you might just be able to get their autograph, click a selfie with them or even have a few minutes of question – answers with them.
3. Play cricket in Sri Lanka
Because cricket is a popular sport in Sri Lanka, many youngsters have developed a passion for the sport and to cater to this audience, there are several outdoor grounds and indoor cricket nets where these rising starts can practice. During your holiday in Sri Lanka, if you want to enjoy an evening of cricket with your family, just stop by one of the many large fields/grounds that you come across in any part of the country; prepare your pitch and play! If you don’t have a crowd big enough for a game of cricket, stop by wherever you see a group of friends playing cricket and request if you can join them. Friendly Sri Lankans will be glad to accommodate your request. Sports clubs in Colombo such as Fingara, Cricket Club and Otters have indoor cricketing nets where you can practice the game too.
4. Purchase Sri Lankan cricket merchandise
If you are a fan of Sri Lankan cricketers, you can purchase the team’s T-shirts and caps at almost any popular retail clothing store around the country. Other specific gear such as autographed bats and balls are available in specialized cricket shops in Colombo.