May 22, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has instructed the relevant authorities to formulate a national program on the field of cricket in order to develop the sport at school level.
The Prime Minister made this directive at a meeting held at Temple Trees Thursday with veteran cricketers and other stakeholders in the field to discuss the proposed project to construct a new international level cricket stadium in Diyagama, Homagama.
Senior Cricketers Sanath Jayasuriya, Roshan Mahanama, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Lasith Malinga as well as former administrators participated in the meeting which was also attended by Sri Lanka Cricket officials.
Minister Bandula Gunawardena on Sunday announced the plan to construct the largest cricket stadium in Sri Lanka at a cost of over $ 30 million.
However, the proposal drew heavy criticism from the public as well as from the past cricketers and the Prime Minister called a meeting with the veteran cricketers to discuss the current issues in the field of cricket and ways to uplift the sport to produce talented players.
At the meeting veteran cricketer and former cricket captain Mahela Jayawardena pointed out that not much attention has been paid to develop the sport at the school level. “We have not focused on school cricket development in the last 15-20 years," he said adding that many steps need to be taken to uplift school cricket in Sri Lanka.
The other cricketers also presented several proposals for the development of Sri Lanka cricket.
After considering the views of veteran cricketers and other experts in the field of sports Prime Minister decided to upgrade the cricket grounds and improve the facilities at the school level, instead of building the proposed Diyagama cricket ground.
Stressing the need to improve cricket and other sports Prime Minister said priority should be given to sports that players can succeed at international level.
Following the meeting, the Prime Minister decided to suspend the proposed new International Cricket Stadium project in Homagama. He also instructed the relevant authorities to formulate a national policy on cricket and submit a report on a national program to him within a month.
Former parliamentarians Namal Rajapaksa and Thilanga Sumathipala also expressed their views at the meeting.