Sri Lankan cricket official: Australian spinner Warne failed to honour promise
23 December 2006
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Australian spin bowler Shane Warne failed to honour his promise to donate money to help rebuild the Galle cricket stadium wrecked by the 2004 tsunami, a Sri Lankan cricket official said Saturday.
'Shane is a fine cricketer, one of the best of our time, but he is not good at keeping promises,’ Jayananda Warnaweera, director of the Galle International Cricket Stadium told The Associated Press by the telephone from the southern city, one of the worst affected by the 2004 tsunami.
Warnaweera, who played test cricket for Sri Lanka for 10 years from 1985, said he was pained to see that Warne, who took his 500th test cricket at the Galle stadium and promised the money, had not kept his word.
'We have not received a cent,’ said Warnaweera, who is also the curator of the ground.
One of the world’s most picturesque cricket stadiums, Galle was to be abandoned after the tsunami, which inflicted huge damages to the infrastructure and required the removal of 3 to 4 inches (10 to 8 centimeters) of top soil on the center pitches. The entire drainage system also needs to be replaced.
Since being converted into an international test venue in 1998, Galle International Stadium has hosted 12 tests.
In February, 2006 Warne visited Galle and promised help through the Shane Warne Foundation. Warne had a personal affection for the Galle Stadium because it was where he captured his 500th test wicket when Australia toured Sri Lanka in early 2004.
Warnaweera said Warne had promised during TV interviews that he will be able to donate a big amount for the reconstruction of the Galle Stadium.
'We had heard he will donate up to US$1 million (Ð0.76 million), plus US$50,000 (Ð37,901.76) that was supposed to have been raised by selling wrist band during the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne,’ Warnaweera said.
'The waiting had been too long and too painful,’ Warnaweera said of the lack of response from Warne. Just nothing has happened.
'Therefore we decided to go ahead and start the work ourselves,’ he added.
Warnaweera said Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, who is otherwise a Rugby fan, has agreed to provide the funds.
'Our estimate is that it will cost between US$3 to US$4 million (Ð2.3 to Ð3 million) for the rebuilding work,’ he said, adding he plans to rebuild the facility by next November in time to host one of the tests when the English team visits Sri Lanka.
Warne has announced he will retire from all international and domestic cricket after the fifth Ashes test against England next month. The 37-year-old Australian legspinner, test cricket’s leading wicket taker with 699 dismissals, made the announcement on Thursday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He will return to the MCG on Tuesday attempting to secure his 700th test wicket in the fourth test against England.