Uncertain times ahead for Malaysian Cricket as Kinrara Oval closes down

In sad news for Associate cricket, Malaysia’s premier cricket venue, the Kinrara Academy Oval in Puchong, has been forced to shut down its operations.

The unfortunate state of affairs occurred due to the Malaysian Cricket Association’s (MCA) ongoing dispute with the landowner Perumahan Kinrara Berhad (PKB), which went to court.

Ultimately, the court ruled in PKB’s favour, ordering MCA to vacate the iconic venue due to their failure to pay PKB the outstanding assessment fees of RM 1.8 million. The court ruling triggered an auction to take place with hundreds of the grounds’ assets such as players’ hostel furnishings, gym fixtures, canteen and kitchen equipment, office fittings, tractors and machinery going under the hammer.

The iconic Kinrara Oval which has hosted the 2008 ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup as well as senior men’s cricket teams from India, Australia and West Indies in 2006

In a statement released on social media, MCA president Mohammed Iqbal Ali Kassim Ali mourned the loss of the oval and shed further light on the nature of the dispute.

“Today is a sad day for cricket in Malaysia, an unprecedented event in the history of sporting associations in Malaysia. At the moment, our concerns turn to the national players who will now need to be housed elsewhere and the 42 full-time staff who are understandably concerned,” he stated.

“Our position was that as a non-profit organisation and the national sporting association with Kinrara Oval as the home of cricket in Malaysia, we strongly believe that the tariff for assessment should have been based on sports and recreation instead of commercial rates. It was for this reason we had disputed the tariff and were taken to court, on which the judgement came against us,” he continued further.

Loss of the Oval signals an uncertain future

It’s not the first time that MCA have had to deal with a dispute regarding the venue. In 2018, PKB repossessed the ground for redevelopment following the expiry of PKB and MCA’s 15-year lease agreement. However, a last minute intervention by the Malaysian Youth and Sports Ministry’s saved the ground from closure. Established in 2003, the 4,000-capacity venue had served as the home of Malaysian cricket for the last eighteen years. With its world class facilities, floodlit towers and excellent drainage, the loss of the Oval is therefore a significant blow to cricket’s fortunes in the country.

It was one of only two ICC accredited One Day International (ODI) venues in South-East Asia and has played host to games featuring some of cricket’s biggest stars. In 2006, a full strength India, Australia and the West Indies squared off in an ODI tri-series at the oval, while two years later, a teenage Virat Kohli led India to the U-19 World Cup title there. More recently, Kinrara Oval has also hosted the 2017 XXIX Southeast Asian Games cricket event and a couple of Pakistan vs Australia WT20Is in 2018.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian national cricket team is currently away on a tri-series tour of Nepal, where they defeated 2021 T20 World Cup participants Papua New Guinea by eight runs in the second game.

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