England in Sri Lanka – 12th November 2018

It is vital to relax and switch off for at least a day between work commitments and think about anything other than how England are going to fit three wicket keepers, three spinners, four seamers and seven batsmen into their starting XI in Kandy. Could there be any better way to do this than by spending six and a half hours on a mini-bus driving from Galle? Surely not. Those who were unfortunate enough to do the trip on a seaplane in 45 minutes really missed out.

Sri Lanka is justifiably proud of its motorway service station. It is brand new, well designed and air-conditioned. And boasts a wide variety of restaurants, and it’s only 20 Rupees to have a pee, which is fantastic value. I bought some roasted cashews and an excellent, freshly ground coffee. Executive producer Jon Norman and Matt Prior had pizza for breakfast. Not that they were especially hungry but there was a branch of Pizza Hut in the building and, you know, why not?

For the first four hours Matty P and the boys ticked off match-fixing, the Aussies, David Warner, KP, county scheduling, the IPL and T20 cricket, player welfare, Donald Trump. Twitter and social media and… other stuff. I didn’t catch it all because I couldn’t help noticing that the aisle between the seats looked just about wide enough to lie down in. Being a long-time ‘traveler with pillow,’ I was soon dozing on the floor. You may have missed me in the photo. I did.

Gareth Batty killed much of the journey by eating large sacks of unusually flavoured snacks, some of which agreed with him. Some of which did not. A combination of travel nausea, junk food guilt and stiffness was more than enough to persuade us into our running kit and three (3km) laps of the beautiful Kandy lake just before sunset. What a place. Apologies for (yet another) return to the fish obsession, but I’ve photographed them freshly caught and cooked on the plate, but here they are – in their thousands – enjoying life.

Having been turfed out of our original hotel because of the accommodation ‘war’ involving the England team, thousands of England supporters and Sri Lanka Cricket, we had no idea of what to expect on arrival at the hastily arranged replacement. It is basic, to say the least, but it is clean and the staff are hospitable, friendly and helpful. It was a surprise to learn that breakfast was not included in the deal – mostly because there is no dining room – but they have offered to prepare chopped fruit and boiled eggs for us during the Test match. Frankly, what could be better than that?

Time to try out the bed…

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