SUBANG JAYA: Following a long struggle and public protests, the national cricket governing body can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the Cabinet has given the green light for the Kinrara Oval to remain at its present site in Puchong near here.
At the Malaysian Cricket Association’s annual awards ceremony held at the oval last night, its president, V Mahinda, said it had not heard officially from the government yet although he felt it was a “done deal”.
“We will wait and see as the ministry said they will work on it,” he told FMT, adding that the association was ready to help the government in any way it could to develop the sport.
“We’ve come a long way,” Mahinda said on the sidelines of the event, its fourth since its inception, at the oval in Bandar Kinrara.
“I’m optimistic (about Kinrara Oval’s future).”
The Cabinet was recently reported to have agreed to allow Kinrara Oval to remain at its original site, following months of uncertainty after it had been slated for closure, rezoning and development.
Last year, the association said it had been given notice to vacate the oval, formerly a popular recreational ground for Kinrara residents, as its 15-year lease was approaching its end.
The landowner, Kinrara Housing Bhd (PKB), was reported to have plans to turn the decades-old ground into a shopping and condominium project.
PKB is a subsidiary of property development company I&P Group Sdn Bhd, which in turn is wholly-owned by SP Setia Bhd.
Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), a government-linked investment company, has a 55.93% equity interest in SP Setia.
The earlier decision to take over Kinrara Oval sparked an outcry from players, supporters and cricket clubs nationwide as international games had been played there and it had sparked greater interest in cricket.
In February, after discussions between Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and other parties, including PKB, a decision was taken to keep Kinrara Oval where it is.
Kinrara Oval has been lauded by the international cricket community for its upkeep and state-of-the-art facilities — one of only three in the country.
Since it opened in 2003, the oval — a stone’s throw from the BK5 LRT station — has hosted many international tournaments, such as the DLF Trophy, involving Australia, India and the West Indies, and the 2008 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
The 5,000-capacity stadium also hosted the 2017 SEA Games, where cricket was a medal sport for the first time. Malaysia won a gold, a silver and a bronze in the three cricket events.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) teams also play there.
“Cricketers of all ages train here. Now, we also have women’s cricket teams,” Mahinda said.
He said a total of 148 matches had been played at Kinrara Oval over the last 36 months.
Another 56 will be held this year, not including state-organised friendlies and games.
He also said 850 schools nationwide currently have cricket teams.
More than 200 cricket enthusiasts and supporters attended last night’s event which, according to Mahinda, was evident of the love the cricket fraternity has for Kinrara Oval.
Present at the event were the president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, Mohamad Norza Zakaria; the Indian and British high commissioners to Malaysia, Mridul Kumar and Charles Hay; and Brig-Gen Mohd Yunus Masjuki from the RMAF.
Present were Malaysian Cricket Association deputy president Arun Kumar, vice-president Nordin Abdullah and representatives from cricket clubs nationwide.
FMT journalist Vinodh Pillai bagged the award for “Best Online News Reporting”. FMT had reported extensively on Kinrara Oval when the issue about its imminent closure went public.