Sun, Dec 24, 2006 - Page 23 News List

Warne's cash never made it to Galle

PAINED The cricket ground at Galle in Sri Lanka was destroyed by the Asian tsunami two years ago. Shane Warne pledged to help rebuild it, but his charity didn't cough up


Australian Test cricketer Shane Warne reacts as he announces his retirement from the national team in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday. Warne has been accused by a senior Sri Lankan cricketing figure of reneging on a promise to rebuild the Galle cricket stadium, which was destroyed by the 2004 tsunami.


Australian spin bowler Shane Warne failed to honor his promise to donate money to help rebuild the Galle cricket stadium wrecked by the 2004 tsunami, a Sri Lankan cricket official said yesterday.

"Shane is a fine cricketer, one of the best of our time, but he is not good at keeping promises," said Jayananda Warnaweera, director of the Galle International Cricket Stadium.

He was speaking by 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 wicket 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 massive damage on the infrastructure and required the removal of 8cm to 10cm 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.

Last February, 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 would 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, plus US$50,000 that was supposed to have been raised by selling wrist band during the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne," he 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 had agreed to provide the funds.

"Our estimate is that it will cost between US$3 million and US$4 million for the rebuilding work," he said, adding he planned 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 made the announcement on Thursday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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