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Surrey in a corner of Sri Lanka

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 18:14 UK time, Friday, 7 December 2007

When you are walking in a tiny village an hour south of Colombo, you don't expect to find roads named after the likes of Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe.

But if you listen to our coverage of the second Test you'll be able to find out why these England stars and TMS summarisers find themselves on signposts in such an unusual location.

The village is called Magonna an area about a mile inland from the sea which until fairly recently was mainly bush land. But thanks to an amazing development funded by Surrey County Cricket Club and the Sri Lankan cricket board the village now has 45 new homes and a fantastic new cricket ground for the local community to use.

Stars like Sehwag and Lara turned out in the fundraiser at The Oval

A group of British media were invited to visit what has been titled the Surrey Cricket Village in the build up to the Test. As well as seeing the impressive development we were able to meet some of the people who have benefited from the project and hear their sometimes harrowing stories.

The people who now live in this village all suffered terrible losses when the 2004 Tsunami struck the coast of Sri Lanka. Each resident lost not only their homes and all their belongings but also at least three members of their close family.

One woman told us that when the tidal wave came all she could do was grab her youngest child and run for miles to try and escape. When she was able to return to her village nothing remained.

But now she has a smart new home and it’s all thanks to this impressive work from an English county club and its supporters. A large part of the funding came from a special charity match which we featured on Five Live Sports Extra in the summer of 2005.

The game, which involved some of the world's greatest cricketers including the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, raised over a million pounds.

As well as creating the Surrey Cricket Village a number of grants have been given to other small villages that needed houses renovated or re-built and money was provided to create or refurbish cricket pitches and nets.

Perhaps the most striking part of the Surrey Village was the cricket facility itself. Currently it has no grass on it (leading some to suggest it resembled the Oval outfield of 1976!) but you could tell from our visit that this area had fantastic potential to be a top class cricket ground.

Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon told us that the priority is not to make it an elite venue – it’s all about cricket for all. But I did notice one of the rooms in the new pavilion had a sign saying "match referee" so perhaps one day it may find itself hosting an international game.

Sheldon said at the moment the aim is for teams from England to come and play local sides at the ground but it is mainly just a resource for the local community. And it’s no problem if the rain comes - the new ground even has one of those special "whale" devices to get the playing area dry as quickly as possible.

And this is not the only country that Surrey is trying to help. The club has set up the Oval Cricket Relief Trust which has already helped projects such as in India where new pitches and nets have been funded at the Bhopal hospital to assist in the ongoing fallout from the industrial disaster of 1984, developments in areas affected by the Pakistan earthquake and the hurricane in Greneda.

If you want to hear more about the Surrey Cricket Village then tune into Test Match Special from this Sunday morning. And don't forget the next two Tests start at the earlier time of 0430 GMT. After what was a thrilling match in Kandy I am sure you will not want to miss a ball.

If you are listening via digital television or on-line in the UK don't forget to follow our interactive commentary with up to the second scorecards, wagon wheels and other information. Jonathan Agnew and others will have regular pieces on this TMS Blog and don't forget to download the TMS Podcast featuring Aggers and the "analyst" Simon Hughes.

Simon's fascinating discussion about using TV technology after the controversial dismissal of Ryan Sidebottom in Kandy has really got you talking. As always we would love to hear from you throughout the Test e-mail, text 84040 or leave your comments on the blog.

Get those alarm clocks set - we'll be on air from 0425 GMT Sunday morning.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:50 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • CJ wrote:

what a lovely thing to do !!!!

  • 2.
  • At 08:13 PM on 07 Dec 2007,
  • omar nawaz wrote:

I have been involved in post-tsunami recovery in the tourism sector but never had the opportunity of visiting this village in Maggona. I am grateful for the article as Surrey was my favourite club as a schoolboy during their heyday when they won the county championship on a trot. I would have expected the streets to be named after May and Barrington - no insult to Stewart and Thorpe ! I also heard that David Graveney is involved in another tsunami project close to Hambantota in the South of Sri Lanka. Sincere thanks to all those who helped in these projects.
Yes, I'll be up at 5.30 a.m. in Madrid to learn a little more from TMS of all the action on and off the field.

  • 3.
  • At 02:15 AM on 08 Dec 2007,
  • Susima Abeyagunawardene wrote:

It's nice if a street could be named Alect and Eric Bedser

  • 4.
  • At 11:23 AM on 08 Dec 2007,
  • osmund wrote:

How very heartwarming. And it seems in a way especially fitting that a cricket club should be involved in this sort of enterprise for cricket is (or was we learnt) about great and noble traditions and a force for 'building up'. Yes, it would be great to have streets named after Ken Barrington, May and the Bedser twins but where do we stop, for Surrey, like so many English counties, have so many favourite sons.

  • 5.
  • At 12:52 PM on 08 Dec 2007,
  • muhammad riaz anjum wrote:

it really is a great thing and tells us that crickters are not just crickters , it is a lesson for people specially for sportsmen that as human being we should always be ready to help others in making their lifes better . hope we all start thinking about it as did surrey county .

  • 6.
  • At 05:01 PM on 08 Dec 2007,
  • ghouse wrote:

Adam, no doubt you may not get a street named after Alec in a village like Maggona,but you sure have streets in Colombo named as follows:
Stewart Street,Cmb 2

Collingwood Place Cmb 6

Petersen place Cmb6

Andersen road (Dehiwela suburb of Colombo)

Baillie Street Cmb 1 (Trevor Baillie)

Dont forget we were under the british so such names are common in Colombo.Horton Place,Gregorys Road,Barnes place still exist named after British Governers.You still can come across Sri Lankan's speaking immaculate Queen's English.They even speak better than some of the Englishman like the cockneys who need a translator for understanding Ha Ha)

Thanks for all the support the Surrey Club gave for Tsunami relief and all those from Old Blighty who chipped in their lot.

  • 7.
  • At 06:55 PM on 08 Dec 2007,
  • Upali Obeyesekere wrote:

Out here from Toronto, Canada - I am pleased to read this good news post-Tsunami story. Congratulations to the Surrey County Cricket Club and its Executives who funded this developmental project.

Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was under British rule and its road network, tea industry and colonial buildings + infrastructure was as a direct result of British influence. Today Sri Lanka is known for Cricket and we owe this to the British as well who introduced it to the islanders.

Stories like this restores our faith that the monies raised for Tsunami aid have been well utilized.

  • 8.
  • At 06:59 PM on 08 Dec 2007,
  • Upali Obeyesekere wrote:

Congratulations to the Surrey County Cricket Club and its executives who funded this developmental project. Post-tsunami, this is one of the best stories I have read. Needless to say, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was under British rule for such a long time and we Sri Lankans owe so much to the British for our road network, tea industry, introducing Cricket and also for its governance that helped structure the island nation. By the way, I live in Toronto, Canada and we have a road called Surrey Place within two miles from my home.

I was extremely pleased and pleasantly surprised about the remarkable contribution made by the Surrey Cricket Club.
Maggona, as nearly all Sri Lankans of my generation, know, was a little hamlet, where persons needing psychiatric treatment, were
Now streets are named after Graham Thorpe and Alec Stewart. We will soon have our kids enjoying a game of cricket, in style. They may also get the opportunity to witness international games. This makes me proud indeed. Well done Surrey Cricket Club.I wish others would assist in like manner.

  • 10.
  • At 10:52 PM on 08 Dec 2007,
  • Mr Ana wrote:

Magonna is an interesting name, it sounds similar to saying "you are a bull" in Sinhalese. Nothing wrong with naming something a bull or cow.

Thanks for raising the money in the name of countries that were affected by the Tsunami, including Sri Lanka, giving is very noble. Thanks for the help of Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon and help of Surrey Cricket Club and all the stars who helped raise this money. Sri Lanka and all the other countries who suffered from the tsunami appreciate such gestures greatly.

On another note, the BBC is very influential and powerful, is there any chance of ending this terrorism in the north of Sri Lanka and getting that terrorist leader Vilpuli Prabakaran in jail and prosecuted? Many thanks for your help

  • 11.
  • At 02:56 AM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Stuart grundy wrote:

I'm surprised that Baillie Street cmb1 was called after Trevor Bailey, who played for Essex

  • 12.
  • At 08:22 AM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Jason Fernando wrote:

Thanks surrey cc..a true nobal deed..a few clarifications though..baillie street colombo 1 is not named after trevor bailly and the psychiatric ward is in Angoda not Maggona which is the south west coast..thanks

  • 13.
  • At 08:39 AM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Jason Fernando wrote:

Thanks surrey cc..a true nobal deed..a few clarifications though..baillie street colombo 1 is not named after trevor bailly and the psychiatric ward is in Angoda not Maggona which is the south west coast..thanks

  • 14.
  • At 10:25 AM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • omar nawaz wrote:

Mr Ana I think we have much more to thank the BBC and what followed subsequently for the little enjoyment afforded by cricket. I am listening to cricket commentary in Sinhala, Tamil, and English through the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. Just read this:

"The history of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation dates back to year 1925, when its first pre-cursor, “Colombo Radio”, was launched on 16th December 1925 using a Medium Wave radio transmitter of one kilowatt of output power from Welikada, Colombo.

Commenced just 03 years after the launch of BBC, Colombo radio was the first ever radio station in Asia."

And 81 years later I am enjoying cricket commentary in 3 languages at the other end of the World thanks to internet since I cannot get TMS in Madrid.


  • 15.
  • At 04:35 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Dhamith jayawardene wrote:


Good for them

  • 17.
  • At 06:17 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Norwegian girl wrote:

Surely it's good to hear about streets named after eglishmen, but the whole thing drowns in sadness of renaming tamil cities, which is a problem we should care more about.

  • 18.
  • At 06:39 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • tony rickard wrote:

from a hampshire supporter: the surrey cricket village news is the very best cricket news i have heard in years.well done to every one of you. it should be a lesson to all sport. more should follow this wonderful example.

  • 19.
  • At 07:18 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • ghouse wrote:

Baillie Street was not named after Trevor Baillie.I was just trying to link up some renowned cricketers with the names of the streets in Colombo. The street names had no links with the cricketers.
Muttiah Muralitharan street in Kandy will be a fitting tribute to this wizard from kandy,I feel thats a worthy suggestion,after the issuance of the Sri Lanka stamp celebrating his historic performance.

  • 20.
  • At 07:32 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • ghouse wrote:

Baillie Street was not named after Trevor Baillie.I was just trying to link up some renowned cricketers with the names of the streets in Colombo. The street names had no links with the cricketers.
Muttiah Muralitharan street in Kandy will be a fitting tribute to this wizard from kandy,I feel thats a worthy suggestion,after the issuance of the Sri Lanka stamp celebrating his historic performance.

  • 21.
  • At 11:27 AM on 10 Dec 2007,
  • ajith wrote:

Thanks you for Surrey County Club and for England fans making people of Magonna happy. As I remember lot of British people contributed to Tsunami recovery and continue to do so. Thank you England's blessed hearts.

  • 22.
  • At 01:08 PM on 10 Dec 2007,
  • Samuk wrote:

fantastic for the Srilaknan and globle cricket. Surry Cricket Club We salute you for your good work

  • 23.
  • At 09:25 PM on 10 Dec 2007,
  • Nal. J. wrote:

It is good to see the wealth that was taken away from this country is given back to its citizens by the colonial rulers

They should take back the terrorism too, as it was handed over to the countrymen by importing cheap labour from India in past,and helping them now, or take them back.

  • 24.
  • At 10:28 PM on 10 Dec 2007,
  • Fitzroy Salgado wrote:

I was very pleased to have followed your lunch time of coverage of the Surrey CCC Village in ‎Maggona during the 2nd days play of the current Test. I must say I was delighted with the news that my ‎south of the river club had made such worthy contribution to a Tsunami project in my old country.‎

I couldn’t agree more with two previous comments, firstly from Susima Abeyagunawardena the sole ‎saviour of “Bedser Twins of Ceylon ” who represented All Ceylon Women’s against the visiting ‎England XI in 1958 at Colombo Oval and I quote ‘It’s nice if a street could be named Alec and Eric ‎Bedser’ unquote, Alec and Eric has been regular visitors to Ceylon since the MCC tour of 1951-52 and ‎I had a great privilege of meeting both of them after an introduction from Sir Jack Hobbs during the ‎‎1954-55 tour and his last official visit to Ceylon was as assistant manager to Duke of Norfolk for the ‎MCC tour of 1962-63 under Ted Dexter. I continue to enjoy wonderful friendship with Sir Alec and ‎other Surrey-men ever since, and he once held the world record of 236 Test wickets. Secondly I quote ‎Omar Nawaz suggestion a street to be named after May and Barrington, yes true the facts for the ‎uniqueness of Surrey CCC’s contribution to the world cricket not only they won County ‎championship seven years in a trot from 1952 to 1958 five under Surridge and two under May’s ‎captaincy , during that period England team was represented by at least five member of Surrey ‎players and the MCC tour party of 1958-59 to Australia had five Surrey-men including Peter May as captain, of ‎course the benchmark of Laker will stand for ever his 19 wickets in the Old Trafford Ashes Test and ‎his 10 for 88 and 2 for 42 for Surrey against the Aussies both in 1956. Lastly I think it is most ‎appropriate to call the entrance to the Surrey Village after my great friend “Hobbs Gate” as at the ‎Oval the first Englishmen to be knighted for cricket a professional John Berry Hobbs in the coronation ‎year 1953. ‎

‎ ‎

  • 25.
  • At 02:01 AM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Mahendra Gunawardena wrote:

Surrey Cricket Club. Thanks for you support.

  • 26.
  • At 07:38 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • N Sureshanandan wrote:

millions of thanks for the surrey cricket club for helping the tsunami hit village in colombo.

I'm so proud of all the people who help this way to the people who realy need help.

  • 27.
  • At 08:52 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Susima Abeyagunawardene wrote:

Thank you Fitzroy Salgado for agreeing with me that the Surrey CCC Village in Maggona should have a street named after Alec and Eric Bedser.

I am sorry to say that my twin sister and I did not represent the all Ceylon Women at cricket against the English Women cricketers in 1958 as we were not in Ceylon at that time. We were in Hawaii on scholarship studying at the University of Hawaii. I believe we would have been in the Ceylon Women's team had we been in Ceylon.

I wrote to Sir Alec after I read on the internet of Eric's death and he had sent me a very gracious reply to my letter. I am glad you are in touch with Sir Alec. I hope he is in good health. As you probably know he will be celebrating next year his 90th birthday on July 4, US independence day.

The one thing my sister and I missed when we came to the US is cricket. At that time there was no internet and the Washington Post hardly reported any cricket news. Now there are "pay-per-view" television programs during the world cup matches, that's about it. When we first came here in 1977 we had to listen to the BBC World Service - sports roundup to get any cricket news.

  • 28.
  • At 09:22 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Susima Abeyagunawardene wrote:

Is this working? I tried to submit a posting and it came up with an error.

  • 29.
  • At 11:55 AM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Jawad Ali wrote:

i m really really happy to hear that surry cricket club is trying to help tsunami people and make a village for them. Surrey is my favourite county as the big cricket stars paly for them. I would also like to add that surry should help all poor asian country as they like the cricket very much. In England People like football as in asian like sirlanka, India, Pakistan, bangladsh people are crazy for cricket. Surry should help all the countries but let see that sir lanka work out or not.


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