Cow Corner

Carnival Colombo: cricket’s craziest ground

Cow Corner

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There are some fairly wild grounds in international cricket, but none has the frenetic, chaotic, carnival atmosphere and fervour of the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

35,000 shrieking, singing, dancing, bawling Sri Lanka and assorted other fans packed into the compact and historic stadium built on swampland for their crucial Group A clash with Australia, and the noise was ear-splitting and wholly spine-tingling.

Most countries like to boast of the vociferous atmospheres their grounds generate (well, New Zealand apart), but Colombo has something special: something enthralling and inspiring.

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Even as rain teemed it down to spoil what looked set to be an intriguing encounter the supporters remained firmly rooted to their spots with greater determination than a Jonathan Trott rearguard: bouncing up and down, waving flags, placards and posters of their heroes while continuing the biggest party in town.

The sun-soaked outfield was instantly transformed into a veritable lake, and the Colombo crowd were left to pull out their colourful rain dances, all to no avail.

Having Jerusalem blaring out of a dodgy tannoy at the start of an Ashes Test in England is an uplifting and stimulating experience, but an entire stadium of shouting, screaming Sri Lankans pouring adoration on their cricketing idols is really something to behold.

Every shot, every run, every boundary from captain Kumar Sangakkara lifted the roof off the stadium as the jubilant home fans went utterly berserk, while Steve Smith's run-out of Mahela Jayawardene instantly and eerily muted the ground at once.

From the raucous and largely inebriated throngs who occupy the Eric Hollies stand at Edgbaston, to the ebullient and highly-charged punters who pack out the 90,000 capacity Eden Gardens in Kolkata, every ground has its own unique characteristics.

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The 'Bullring' at the Wanderers in South Africa and the MCG in Melbourne are bothincredibly intimidating places for visiting cricketers to ply their trade under immense pressure (although try telling that to Tim 'too dim to get nervous 'Bresnan).

Pakistan's National Stadium in Karachi was something of a fortress until Graham Thorpe played Saqlain Mushtaq around for a century of singles in near darkness back in 2000-01.

Bridgetown in Barbados was one of the scariest places any international batsman could ever visit with West Indies in their pomp, while Brian 'Prince of Port of Spain' Lara prompted unbridled mayhem with his 375 and 400 world-record knocks against England at St John's, Antigua.

It would take another blog to go into cricket's most beautiful, scenic or historic grounds, but the craziest has to be the Premadasa by Cowers' reckoning.

Do you disagree or have you experienced even more chaotic scenes elsewhere? Post your comments below...

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Fans roar their hearts out at the Premadasa Stadium as Sri Lanka build to 146 for three before an epic shower bucketed it down to wash out a very promising encounter.

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Kevin O'Brien thinks he is sporting the wackiest haircut at the World Cup, but he is sorely mistaken: this trio show what can be done with a trip to the Dulux factory to add some spice to regular buffons, mullets and perms.

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Oh dear, this is what later ensued as Sangakkara was pondering in what fashion he might like to celebrate his century, only to see his charge towards a ton ended abruptly as torrential rain hosed it down.

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Apart from simply lauding Sangakkara's imperious but cruelly curtailed knock, there was one obvious aspect of the game which caught Cowers' attention.

Australia were a full 20 minutes behind the over-rate at the time of the rain and, while Ricky Ponting cannot be blamed for the savage and decisive intervention of the elements, he clearly has complete apathy for the regulations.

Far from being representative of an unneccessary ICC jobsworth's stipulations, the over-rate guidelines are part of the etiquette of the game: slowing an innings down frustrates the batsmen, infuriates the crowd and disrupts the natural rhythm of the contest.

Ponting has been fined so many times for breaching the over-rate margins of acceptability that he most probably budgets for the deductions accordingly and maybe even spreads them out across his players' match fees.

Of course, that is pure speculation: but any man who deems it necessary to dive in and hurl abuse at Tillakaratne Dilshan despite the enormous Shaun Tait having his personal altercation with the batsman firmly under control has to have their conduct scrupulously monitored.

The situation cannot go on and, although Ponting is far from being alone with other international skippers having also been caught short in the field, the Australia captain is a repeat offender and the current punishments having no effect.

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SHOT OF THE DAY: Sangakkara had the Premadasa crowd literally jumping up and down with delight as he shimmied down the trackto Fred Durst-lookalike Jason Krejza and carved an unerring strike over the bowler's head for an emphatic one-bounce four.

STAT OF THE DAY: The potential tragedy of Sangakkara's inspired innings being extinguished on 73 not out by the rain is not to be underestimated: the Sri Lanka captain has not scored an ODI century since 2008 and looked destined to reach his ton and send his adoring fans into delirium.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: "On the couch, VLS in hand, switch on TV to watch the cricket - it's bloody raining!!! Seriously..." (Shane Warne had his evening planned, only for it to be scuppered by the rain - massive empathy.)

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Ponting is the angriest man in cricket and should be told to retire, enjoy his money and silverware and give everyone else in the game a break!" (Gav is clearly not the Australian captain's biggest fan, nor is he a staunch advocate of playing until you are forced toretire.)

COMING UP: It's another epic double bill on Sunday as England have the opportunity of confounding their ever-growing cluster of critics against South Africa at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, while Ireland face India at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore off the back of their historic win over Andrew Strauss's side.

CAPTION COMPETITION: What words would you put in Kevin Pietersen's mouth...? The best offering will be announced in tomorrow's blog.

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