Galle Cricket Ground: Sri Lanka's Southern International Stadium
Perched on Sri Lanka's stunning southern coastline, right beside the Indian Ocean, Galle International Stadium exudes a charm like no other.
We first experienced its magic here back in 1999 for an ODI tri series with Sri Lanka, Australia and India, and the place has captivated us ever since.
A short Tuk Tuk ride away from where we usually reside at our tranquil lodgings in the wonderful beach resort of Unawatuna, the stadium perfectly captures the spirit of Sri Lankan cricket.
Its unique location ushers in afternoon sea breezes, adding an unpredictable twist to the game and keeping spectators and players alike on their toes.
Let's delve deeper into this Sri Lankan cricketing gem and discover why it continues to charm cricket enthusiasts worldwide, and why Australian Cricket Tours love going back to Galle for cricket tour, after cricket tour.
Galle Cricket Ground History
Situated within a stone's throw of the iconic Galle Fort, the history of the Galle Cricket Stadium is as interesting and captivating as the ancient fort itself.
The ground, which was formerly known as "The Esplanade," first came to life in 1876 and was originally constructed for horse racing.
Despite its long history as an event destination, it wasn't until 1998, more than a century later, that this iconic venue finally gained the distinguished status of an "International Cricket Stadium".
Since then, this arena of history has been a silent witness to countless gripping cricketing duels and Australian Cricket Tours have been there every time Australia has graced the playing field here.
Here are the most important dates in the history of the Galle International Cricket Stadium:
1876: Galle Cricket Ground, originally known as "The Esplanade," was first established
1927: First recorded cricket match held at the ground
1984: Renamed as Galle International Stadium
1998 (June): Upgraded to an International Cricket Stadium and hosted its first Test match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand
2004 (March): Shane Warne, the late, legendary Australian leg-spinner, took his 500th Test wicket; Hashan Tillakaratne caught by the late Andrew Symonds
2004 (December): Devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami. Major reconstruction needed
2007 (December): After extensive reconstruction, Galle International Stadium hosted its first test match post-tsunami between Sri Lanka and England
2010 (July): Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka’s legendary spinner, took his 800th wicket in Test cricket in his final match against India at Galle
2017 (March): Galle International Stadium hosted its first T20 International match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh
2021 (January): England won a test series in Sri Lanka for the first time since 2001 with victory at Galle International Stadium
2023 (March): Scheduled for a significant renovation and upgrade
Galle Cricket Stadium Capacity
Galle Cricket Stadium, while not the largest in terms of capacity, is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting and is often noted as being one of the most scenic in the world.
Officially noted as capable of housing around 35,000 spectators, honestly, the capacity is far less than that.
We know as we’ve been so many times and we’re sure it will only comfortably hold 8,000 seated spectators - if that!
Where to Stay When Watching Cricket At Galle
Well, there are plenty of places to stay close to the cricket ground here in Galle such as the Le Grand Galle on the headland right by the fort where a private beach, amazing pool and superb breakfast spread awaits.
There are loads of lower star hotels in the vicinity as well for the budget conscious including a whole array of different guest houses which are similar to B&B’s.
But for a superb beach experience just a few kilometers south of the cricket ground - as we often have - head for Unawatuna Beach.
Here you’ll find an awesome array of different hotels from no star to five star. The beach is covered in golden sand and there are some great little places scattered all along to eat and laze away the days (when you’re not watching cricket of course).
Most recently, due to sheer numbers of people that tour with us, we have stayed in the much better beach-resort town of Hikkaduwa, some 17km north of Galle International Stadium (it's OK, we provide transfers!) where there are much bigger hotels, more restaurants and bars, and a more vibrant atmostphere.
What Should I Take With Me to Watch Cricket at Galle Cricket Ground
You must think of your comfort and be prepared watching cricket here in Galle as the elements can be harsh if you’re not used to them.
Here are our best suggestions for preparing yourself to enjoying the cricket here:
1. Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (30 or above) to all exposed areas of your skin, including your face, neck, arms, and legs. Reapply it every couple of hours, especially if you're sweating or sitting in direct sunlight.
2. Hat or cap: Wear a wide-brimmed hat or a cap with a visor to shield your face, ears, and neck from the sun. This will help protect you from direct sunlight and minimise the risk of sunburn.
3. Sunglasses: Wear sunglasses with UV protection to safeguard your eyes from the sun's harmful rays. Look for sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays.
4. Lightweight and breathable clothing: Opt for loose-fitting, lightweight, and breathable clothing made from light-colored fabrics. Light-colored clothing reflects sunlight and helps keep you cooler.
5. Portable shade or umbrella: If you are seated on the embankments, then bring a portable shade or compact umbrella to create your own shaded area. There is only one covered public stand in Galle.
6. Hydration: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the match. Carry a refillable water bottle to ensure you have access to water whenever needed.
7. Seek shade (If possible): Take advantage of any shaded areas within the stadium during breaks or when you feel the need to escape direct sunlight. Find covered stands or seating areas where you can sit and enjoy the match.
Remember to prioritise your comfort and well-being during the cricket match by taking necessary precautions against the sun to better enjoy the game!
Galle Cricket Ground | Our Final Thoughts!It's not just a cricket ground; it's a shrine where legends have been born and rivalries have intensified and that might be just within our own tour group.
The record-breaking feats accomplished here are a testament to its status within the cricketing world, contributing significantly to its prominent reputation as a cricket stadium.
This hallowed pitch has seen test records being created, broken, and then rewritten, reflecting the skill, tenacity, and sheer grit of the players who've graced it.
Moreover, the vicinity of Galle Fort adds an unparalleled charm to this cricketing site.
The fort, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stands as a mute spectator to the ground, its imposing structure a constant reminder of the rich history that permeates the air here.
It's a place where history, culture, and sport intertwine, offering a cricketing experience like no other.