Sri Lanka is the youngest dominant cricket team in the world at the moment. Having been awarded Test status only in 1981, Sri Lanka already have a World Cup and a World T20 title under their belt.
Here are 5 facts about Sri Lankan cricket that are not known to many:
#1 Sri Lanka has the only school in the world that owns an international cricket stadium
Sri Lanka’s second Test venue – Asgiriya Stadium, Kandy is the only Test ground in the world to be owned by a secondary school. The ground belongs to Trinity College, the school which Kumar Sangakkara hails from.
The stadium was carved out of a hill, due to the lack of flat space in the central hills. Being one of the most beautiful cricket stadiums in the world, Asgiriya Stadium was promoted to international standards by Gamini Dissanayake, former chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket and an alumnus of Trinity, citing the need to improve cricket infrastructure in the isle to attain Test status.
It was here in Asgiriya that Sri Lanka won its first and only Test match against Australia. Surrounded by hills and being snuggled by clouds the ground favours seam bowlers, contrary to other stadiums in the island. Asgiriya Stadium fell down the pecking order after the construction of Pallekele Cricket Stadium in Kandy. The stadium last hosted a match in 2007.
#2 Sri Lanka has a cricket ground at a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Known as “The Esplande”, the Galle International Cricket Stadium is encircled by the Portuguese built fort – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Indian Ocean.
The fort was first bulit by the Portuguese rulers, but it was the Dutch who fortified it extensively in the 17th century. The cricket ground that is present now, was initially a race course built in 1876. The race course became a cricket stadium, officially in 1927, with the first turf being laid out in 1945. It hosted its first Test match in 1998.
The boxing day tsunami in 2004 left the stadium in debris and the future of the stadium was bleak. But thanks to Shane Warne and Sir Ian Botham, the stadium was re-built amidst concerns being expressed by various organisations about the possibility of losing the World Heritage site status.
This ground now, is the most favorable Test venue for Sri Lanka, with the first match of every Test series being played at Galle. Adorned by the Galle fortress in the backdrop and the Indian Ocean on both sides, it is one of the most picturesque stadiums in the world.
#3 Only team to win a World Cup after having been an Associate member
#4 Sri Lanka is the youngest nation to have recorded Test victories against all Test teams
Sri Lanka is the third youngest Test playing team. The first and the second are Zimbabwe and Bangladesh respectively.
After being awarded Test status in 1981, Sri Lanka have beaten all Test sides, with most of their victories coming against Bangladesh and the least – 1 coming against Australia. However, Sri Lanka is yet to record a Test win in India and Australia.
#5 The 2nd oldest uninterrupted cricket series is played in Sri Lanka
The Royal-Thomian encounter, dubbed as the “battle of the blues”, is the second oldest cricket series, only behind the annual fixture between St Peter’s College, Adelaide and Prince Alfred College played since 1878. The battle of the blues which has been played since 1879, is older than The Ashes.
The series is played annually, across three days and attracts island wide attention. Playing in the big match encounter is considered as one of the most prestigious moment in a Royalist’s or Thomian’s career.