Home of Malaysian cricket under closure threat

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s top cricket stadium, which has hosted some of the game’s greats, may have to be abandoned after a property developer decided to turf out the sport’s local governing body, an official said Monday (Oct 22).

The Kinrara Oval, which was built in 2003 and has hosted one-day internationals featuring India, Australia and the West Indies, and Under-19 World Cup games, sits on a plot of prime land west of the capital Kuala Lumpur.

India’s Sachin Tendulkar raises his bat after reaching a century against the West Indies at the(Photo:AFP)

But the Malaysian Cricket Association’s lease has expired and they have been told to leave by the end of the month to make way for a new development, according to the group’s secretary Mohammed Iqbal Ali Kassim Ali.

"It will be a sad day if we lose the Kinrara Oval," he said of the ground on which the legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar scored a sparkling unbeaten 141 against the West Indies in an ODI in September 2006.

"It is a world class, iconic pitch. We want the ground to remain the home of Malaysian cricket."

The association has mounted a campaign to try to save the oval, and the International Cricket Council (ICC) at the weekend threw its weight behind the effort.

"Cricket in Malaysia is flourishing with the number of players in all age groups growing … and we are hopeful a sustainable solution can be found," David Richardson, the ICC chief executive said in a statement.

"The ICC will continue to support Malaysia Cricket and hopes the Kinrara Oval will remain an international cricket venue."

The Pakistan women’s team are currently playing Australia’s women in a one-day international series at the stadium.

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It is not clear what the property company that owns the land plans to build on the site, which is surrounded by residential developments.

The cricket association met with the sports minister last week to press their case and Iqbal said he has also written to Prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

"We have been engaging with the developer for a long, long time," he said. "We had hoped it could be resolved behind close doors."

While cricket is growing fast in Malaysia, it remains less popular than other sports, such as badminton and football.