SL Cricket apologises for crowd chaos

Attendance numbers swell to two-and-a-half times capacity in incredible scenes in Dambulla

Sri Lanka Cricket today issued an apology for inadequate crowd control measures that led to the remarkable sight of cricket fans climbing trees, walls and scaffolding to get a glimpse of Australia’s tense two-wicket win at Rangiri Stadium in Dambulla last night.

Incredibly, the national governing body revealed estimates of 45,000 fans piling into the venue with a capacity of just 18,000 in the first day-night one-day international at the venue in six years.

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Not only did fans seek unusual spots around the ground to take in the third match of the ODI series, but those with reserved seating at the Press Box End found themselves in disarray as venue ushers struggled to manage the demands of the ever-growing crowd.

“Sri Lanka Cricket sincerely wishes to announce that it regrets the inconvenience caused to the ticket holders and cricket fans who could not get to their allocated seats at yesterday's third ODI match played in Dambulla,” the SLC media release stated.

“Having the capacity of accommodating 18,000 spectators, over 45,000 cricket fans attended the match as per the SLC security estimates.

“Therefore the security staff and the ushering teams lost the crowd control systems which was in place to assist the spectators as usual.

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“Due to the above situation contingency measures were taken to protect the playing area and the two teams, which was considered as a priority for the continuation of the game.

“SLC wishes to state that it will take adequate measures to ensure that proper security and ushering will be in place for the upcoming matches and apologise once again for the inconvenience caused to our fans.”

The raucous crowd went into a state of pandemonium after Angelo Mathews had won the toss and elected to bat, allowing retiring Sri Lanka great Tillakaratne Dilshan to open up proceedings one last time.

A guard of honour formed by the home side met Dilshan on his way out to the middle, while each of his five boundaries in the 65-ball knock of 42 sparked wild celebrations.

Dilshan’s departure in the 19th over left fans stunned, but they all showed their appreciation as the 39-year-old bowed and waved on his way back to the pavilion for the final time in the 50-over game.

Following an emotional lap of honour in the aftermath of the narrow loss to hand the series lead back to Australia, Dilshan admitted it was a bittersweet feeling to receive such a warm response from the home fans in defeat.

“After 17 years in my career I tried to give my best to my team and the country.

“Today also I tried my best to win this game, but unfortunately we are short 10 or 15 runs.

“I’m also disappointed. After getting a 40 – and getting starts in the last two games – I couldn’t get a big one. But I’m glad to be giving the youngsters a chance.

“I am happy about what I’ve done for my country in my career.”

Dilshan plays his final ODI hand

The ODI series returns to Dambulla for the fourth ODI on Wednesday, while Dilshan now prepares for the two T20s next week that will culminate with another sell-out crowd at R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on 9 September.

Meg Lanning Steve Smith