Warne leads campaign to rebuild Galle stadium

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/S/Shanewarne1.jpg' class='caption'> The Galle stadium is one of Australian cricketer Shane Warne's favourite cricket grounds and he is raising $1 million to rebuild it

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:54 IST
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Galle, Sri Lanka:

The Galle stadium is one of Australian cricketer Shane Warne's favourite cricket grounds and he is raising $1 million to rebuild it, after the devastation caused by the tsunami. It is located in Galle, the seaside town on the east coast of Sri Lanka and took the full force of the waves last December. Renovation of the stadium can start anytime and more money is needed for it. The tsunami killed many people in Sri Lanka. Nine months later it has become a scene for a curious tourist. A coastal train that runs from Colombo to Galle was thrown 100 metres away by the tsunami, which lasted 20 minutes, but even 20 years is not enough for rebuilding the town. The sea is just a few meters away from the 500-year old Dutch fort at Galle, which miraculously did not suffer much damage, but the Galle cricket ground that overlooks the fort was almost totally ruined. On the day the tsunami struck, an English school team was playing against a provincial Galle side at the ground. The waves swept in at 9:26 am (IST), just 4 minutes before the match was to start. Fortunately the players who were warming up had enough time to rush up the stairs to the first floor of the pavilion. There were no loss of life at the stadium but cricket suffered its biggest loss in Galle in those 20 minutes. Such was the force of the tidal waves that even concrete stands developed huge cracks. Nearly $5 million is the estimated cost of reconstruction. Jayananda Warnaweera a former Sri Lankan test cricketer who is also the curator at the ground says, it is his life's mission to see that it hosts a game as soon as next year. He has also appealed to the large Indian cricket community to contribute for reconstruction of the stadium. Sri Lanka cricket authorities who own the Galle stadium initially thought that it would be insensitive to re-build a sports facility when so many people were still homeless. But they have managed to raise funds on their own without government help. An Australian delegation led by the deputy sports minister is also looking for ways to contribute. The ICC is contributing as well, and $1 million is coming from Shane Warne and Australian broadcaster Channel Nine. Warne visited the ground soon after the tsunami. Galle's claim to fame will always be that he got his 500th wicket there. But even when the stadium is re-built, one thing will not be tampered with - the clock, which stopped at the time the tsunami struck. It will be proof that life, like cricket is full of uncertainties.

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