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Cricket World Cup: Sri Lanka board chairman slams media

By Saroj Pathirana
BBC Sinhala Service

Sri Lanka Cricket chairman DS de Silva
De Silva played in Sri Lanka's inaugural Test against England in 1982

Sri Lanka Cricket chairman DS de Silva has accused the Sri Lankan media of publishing false reports over the delay in constructing World Cup venues.

The International Cricket Council has raised concerns over some venues.

The World Cup, co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, begins on 19 February after a week of warm-up games.

"Can you take seriously what those newspapers say? Have those newspapers ever said anything good?" De Silva told the BBC's Sinhala Service.

He was commenting over the reports claiming that the progress of building Sri Lanka's three World Cup venues are lagging behind the ICC deadlines.

R Premadasa Stadium (Colombo) - 5 group matches, 1 quarter-final, 1 semi-final
Pallekele Stadium (Kandy) - 3 group matches
Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium (Hambantota) - 2 group matches

ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat recently revealed that five of the 15 venues across the three host countries were behind schedule - notably Mumbai and Kolkata in India, which are both undergoing major renovations.

However, he remains confident that all the venues would be ready on time - and played down concerns that there would be any problems on the scale of last year's Commonwealth Games in Delhi, when several teams threatened to pull out because of unfinished or substandard facilities.

The Sunday Leader English weekly claimed on Sunday that its reporters were not allowed to visit all three venues - the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, Pallekele Stadium in Kandy and Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Hambantota on 10 January.

But SLC chairman De Silva, a former leg-spinner who played 12 Tests and 41 one-day internationals for Sri Lanka between 1975 and 1985, says the request was made about a month ago.

"We haven't stopped anybody from visiting the venues. They can now visit the venues and publish their reports," he said.

Both R Premadasa Stadium and Pallekele Stadium are 99% ready. I hope Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium will also be ready soon

Sri Lanka Cricket chairman DS de Silva

"We are not bothered about what those newspapers say."

He added that the ICC officials, including pitch specialist Andy Atkinson who recently visited all three venues, have expressed satisfaction over the progress in constructions.

"Both R Premadasa Stadium and Pallekele Stadium are 99% ready. I hope Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium will also be ready soon," added De Silva.

"Apart from Hambantota, only the cleaning phase is left in the other two stadiums."

When asked why the reporters were not allowed in on 10 January if SLC had nothing to hide, he replied: "What can I do if they continue publishing wrong reports?

"Those who questioned about the venues are not saying anything now.

"When they see the progress on television, those newspapers are now really surprised how we managed to build three international stadiums within nine months."

President Mahinda Rajapaksa inspecting R Premadasa stadium with SLC officials (file photo)
The ICC admits the construction of World Cup venues is behind schedule

However, De Silva admitted that the continuous rain and recent adverse weather has affected the construction of the Hambantota venue and the roads leading to it.

Hambantota, yet to stage international cricket, will be the first of the Sri Lankan three venues to stage games - Sri Lanka's opening game with Canada on 20 February, and Kenya v Pakistan three days later.

Sri Lanka then host Pakistan in the first of Colombo's five group games on 26 February at the redeveloped R Premadasa Stadium, which has hosted one-day internationals and Tests since 1986.

Pallekele's debut as an international venue came last month as Sri Lanka hosted West Indies in a rain-hit Test, and the first of its three World Cup games is New Zealand's meeting with Pakistan on 8 March.

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see also
Muralitharan sets retirement date
21 Jan 11 |  Sri Lanka
World Cup venues behind schedule
15 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Vaas ponders Sri Lanka retirement
11 Jan 11 |  Sri Lanka
Warnings not heeded - Games chief
01 Oct 10 |  Commonwealth Games
Cricket World Cup 2011 squads
19 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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