Sri Lanka Cricket Tour
After a seemingly fast journey to Heathrow Airport, we arrived in good spirits and our tour officially began.After a five hour wait we boarded the flight and set off to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. Upon arrival the heat and humidity hit us immediately as we set off for a 3 hour bus drive to our hotel.
We sampled some Sri Lankan delicacies as well as experiencing some Sri Lankan culture.
After waking up at the crack of dawn and eating enough breakfast for 10 it was a surprise to be on another bus!!! We then experienced one of the craziest bus journeys of our lives with our Sri Lankan bus drivers appearing to understand different road laws to us. We arrived at a dry and barren ground with beautiful views, with the locals looking at us as if we were Kumar Sangakarra. There were plenty of local boys to help back up our fielding with some of the young boys showing a lot of curiosity and were dying to get involved. After we all had a good bat and bowl in the nets and some much needing fielding practice we all got on the bus feeling like we had worked off the big breakfast and in need of another large meal and a relaxing swim.
We started the day with a standard breakfast which portion sizes had continually increased with the team feeling the effects of the decreases in food compared to back home. Today was our first game day against Trinity College at the Asigiriya Stadium, the boys arrived in good spirits ready for a long day of batting, bowling and most certainly a lot of fielding. After captain for the day Matt Lamb won the toss, he elected to bowl. After a brilliant opening spell from Matt Bentley and Alex Wilkinson and 2 wickets in 2 overs from Darrel Williams, Trinity were reduced to 48-5 off 13 overs. The boys then kept taking regular wickets with some consistent bowling, combined with loose shots by our opponents, restricted them to 118-8 off 28. With our opponents seemingly beaten with their bowlers at the crease, the boys took their foot off the gas, a slow over rate and complacency meant we allowed Trinity to reach 199 all out after 44 overs with Darrel Williams finishing with 3-45 off his 10 overs and Alex Wilkinson 2-28 off 7 overs. This score was under par on the pitch with a flat wicket and lightning quick outfield.
Our innings started off with the early loss of Henry Moberley, However this only brought the combination of Matt Lamb and Will Fraine together and the scoreboard started to continuously tick over. After 20 overs, we had reached 83-1 with both batsmen set for big scores. Will Fraine was the first to reach a landmark bringing up a run a ball 50, however an over later he was out for 51 caught by a brilliant catch by one of the Trinity players. This left Bromsgrove on 106-2 off 27, with 94 required off 23 overs. However this was no match for our boys as they continued to press forward and scored these 94 runs off 9 overs with Matt Lamb scoring 93 and Darrel Williams finishing on 36 not out. This rounded off a well deserved victory in our first match and we look forward to tomorrow's match with another early morning on the cards.
News of our performance travelled quickly which meant our game today against Maliyadeva college changed to playing against a select regional team which included two Sri Lanka U19 boys who had played in the recent World Cup and two Sri Lanka U17 boys and the best of the rest from the college. After winning the toss we decided to bat on a good flat wicket, after losing two quick wickets Will Fraine and Darrel Williams built a potential match winning partnership against some hostile bowling from the quicks and impressive spin bowling from their four spinners. Both fell just after getting their 50 which meant we had 10 overs left with the score 160-5, we then found it very hard going scoring against some outstanding pace and spin bowling only a late flourish from Alex wilkinson hitting 14 quickly meant we finished on 202-9 off 40 overs which was 20 below par.
We began the second innings with inconsistent bowling allowing the opposition batsman to dominate our full pitch deliveries, however we did manage to pick up two early wickets. The wayward bowling continued which allowed a partnership to develop, taking Maliyadeva into a commanding position. Darrel Williams managed to help seize back control with 2 for 26 before rain caused the game to be abandoned after 19 overs. It was a shame not to see the game finish with match evenly poised, after we had worked so hard to get their star batsman out. All of the boys are now looking forward to our trip to the Elephant Orphanage and our transfer to the beautiful Hikkadua.
After a early rise we set off on a three and a half coach journey to the beautiful city of Hikkaduwa. Mr Mullan regretted his choices at dinner the previous evening as he began to feel the consequences early on the journey. We stopped off at an elephant orphanage where we were lucky enough to see them bathing in the river. this is an experience that will stay with us for the rest of our Lives as Jack Harding had a photo with a snake and Lawrence and Karan were lucky enough to have a photo with one of the elephants.
After another hour or so we stopped off for some lunch, local Sri Lankan food was sampled which was topped off by a truly delightful ice cream. We got back on the coach for the final couple of hours and after several games of rummy in which chase seem to dominate we ended up at the the Citrus Hotel. Just a twenty-foot walk from our rooms the beach. The places and views are breath taking and the group feel very privileged for the opportunities we have had so far. Tomorrow looks even better as we go to the Test venue of Galle for a training session. Mr Fallows has planned some range hitting which all of he lads are excited for.
Our sixth day in Sri Lanka began with a short drive to the Hikkaduwa Foundation of Goodness. This is a Sports Academy School set up after the 2004 Tsunami hit the local area. We visited their fantastic sports facilities as well as the beautiful pre-school where we met the teachers, pupils and volunteers who work there as well as handing over a few small gifts which we hope will aid their cause. This truly was a wonderful experience for all of the touring party to see what has developed after such a devastating event, this really will live long in the memory.
We then took a short drive along the beautiful coastal road to Galle where the squad had a great lunch and a walk around one of Sri Lanka's trendier places steeped in history. Unfortunately we were not able to have a training session but the views from the top of the old fort, overlooking the Test ground definitely made the trip worthwhile.
Everyone was looking forward to playing two T20 matches at the same ground against St Thomas and Rahula College which was a slight change to the planned itinerary that meant we gained a well earned day off on day 8. This was somewhat short lived as we had a terrible day, against strong opposition, with both teams having the standard two or three Sri Lanka U19 players, which is a great challenge for us. We were totally outplayed on a great wicket only managed to score 126 in the first game which was 30 below par and 144 in the second game which was 20 below par. In the first match our opposition took their time with no risks at all to reach the target with three overs to spare. The second game was a little different with two special batsmen coming at us hard hitting good balls to the boundary in a confident and positive way. Darrel Williams was the pick of the boys with fine performances with bat and bowl, Chase Edwards contributed well, as did Lawrence Hill, Matt Bentley, Jordan Smith and Alex Wilkinson.
When we got back to the hotel both Tom swift and Henry Moberley were suitably embarrassed at supper with two birthday cakes arriving to the table with sparklers and the band playing happy birthday to which the whole restaurant burst into song!
We will enjoy our one and only day off tomorrow, which is much needed since the bus journeys alone are challenging.
After a day of rest and relaxation on Thursday, as well as a superb team lunch, the squad were up early and had a quick breakfast before we began our last long distance drive which the team were very happy about. The long drive had us arriving at the P Sara Test stadium to see some friends from home - the England development team.
We lost the toss and were asked to bat by the Prince of Wales College in a reduced game of 35 overs. We began well with a flying start from Will Fraine hitting two 6's and a 4 in the first over to get to 21. This slowed down a lot when Tom Banton was adjudged to be LBW. Unfortunately this got worse when Matt Lamb was bowled. The ship was then steadied by Will Fraine and Darrel Williams as they went along rotating the strike well against some very good spin bowling to reach 88-2 off 20 overs. This was until Darrel Williams was dismissed for 29 and shortly after Will Fraine on 48. Scoring was slowed down a lot after these dismissals however we reached an overall total of 164 which was helped by a good partnership from Matt Bentley and Chase Edwards.
Going into field we knew we knew we were short on runs and needed to make up for that with some early wickets. However we weren't so beneficial, as it took up to the 20th over to remove both openers. With the second opener out the way a floury of wickets occurred from some quality bowling by Darrel Williams. With the game in the balance we struggled to get the remaining Sri Lankan tail enders out, losing the match by 4 wickets.
Although the squad were bitterly disappointed to loose out in the game they were ecstatic once they turned up at the hotel to find gorgeous views and a beautiful setting. We are sure to enjoy our stay during the last few days of tour.
The squad saved their best performance of the tour till last, beating a competitive Royal College team by 8 wickets. Royal chose to bat first in stifling hot conditions but Bromsgrove got off to a perfect start with Alex Wilkinson and Matt Bentley applying huge amount of pressure during the first 15 overs. Royal were struggling at 44 for 3. Chase Edwards took an unbelievable catch in the middle of the innings to remove their danger man which kept the Royal batsman under pressure. Although there were some missed chances within the innings the whole team produced an exceptional performance in difficult conditions to bowl the opposition out for 161. Karan Gour (2 for 21) and James Kinder (2 for 15) helped to finish of their innings.
Bromsgrove started their innings off well, showing a positive approach, with Will Fraine scoring runs easily. After 10 overs Will and Henry Moberley had built a partnership of 70. Although Will Fraine fell for 48 the batsman never looked back after this chasing down the target in the 23rd over. Henry Moberley ending on a well deserved 42 not out and was also assisted by Matt Lamb scoring a quick fire 49. This was a really positive way to end the tour with every player producing at least one positive performance.
As the cricket was finished the boys were able to enjoy a day of relaxation and sight seeing. A well deserved lie in was followed by some time spent relaxing in the lovely hotel before we headed on a tour of Sri Lanka's capital site. Our guide took us on a trip to see the SSC cricket ground, a Buddhist Temple, the Racecourse International Ground as well as time spent shopping for souvenirs. This was followed by a walk along the Galle Head Green where everyone was able to have one last game of cricket with some of the local youngsters. This was a great way to finish our tour of the city with a large number of spectators gathering to watch.
However our day was not done with the highlight of the day coming when we had our evening meal at The Ministry of Crab. This is the restaurant owned by international cricketers Kumar Sangakarra and Mahela Jayawardene There was a large supply of crab, prawns, rice, vegetables and much more which all of the boys thoroughly enjoyed.
A long tiresome travel day brought the tour to an end with all parents happy to see boys back at 11pm last night. A fantastic tour which has seen the boys challenged in all facets of the game with the additional factor of heat and humidity, the boys dealt extremely well in difficult conditions and on reflection played a great positive brand of cricket having the upper hand in three of the six matches which will stand them in good stead for the approaching summer term. I hope in time the boys will look back on the off the field experiences with great fondness; each journey was an experience! Most boys enjoyed eating crab (and big ones at that) for the first time at the Ministry Of Crab (owned by two Sri Lankan greats – Mahela and Kumar) and the day at the Foundation of Goodness in Hikkaduwa will hopefully stay with them for a long time a very moving experience. I thank Mr Mullan (Jnr) for his help and attention to detail on the trip. Hopefully today is the start of our summer!