England in Sri Lanka – 13th October 2018

 

The weather, mercifully, is being kind and promises to remain so. But even if it does rain tomorrow afternoon and we can’t finish the game, we can do so on Sunday. Not a restart, just pick up from wherever we left off and finish it. A reserve day – but only for the weekend matches, not the two week day ones. Obviously week days are less important. We all know that.

The mind boggles at the prospect of a nail-biting finish ending in a downpour and the teams reconvening at 9:45am on Sunday morning with 20 required from 11 balls with four wickets in hand. Contender for the shortest day of international cricket in history. But only a contender. There are several candidates.

Dambulla is famous for its ‘Golden Temple’, or ‘Cave Temple’ as it is more commonly called. Golden because of the giant Buddha at the bottom of the 380 steps and, obviously, Cave because of what has been painstakingly carved into the top of the rock in which some of the most remarkable of the country’s historic artifacts are displayed.

It was particularly satisfying to learn that, while some of them date back over 2000 years, others are just over a century old. It’s a fine and noble thing to preserve and celebrate the culture and achievements of our predecessors, but why let it stop? Here, they haven’t, and the attention to detail is so precise that it is impossible for the amateur eye to distinguish between what is 2000 and 120 years old.

Similarly impressive, albeit in a totally different way, was hearing the brutal honesty in which Eion Morgan described England’s transition from the feeble unit which was beaten by Bangladesh to exit the 2015 World Cup in the Group Stages to the fearsome squad they are now.

“We were directionless, we were going in to fights without the ability to throw a punch. Jimmy and Broady would win us a few games with the ball but otherwise we were hopeless,” he said with eye-watering honesty. “The decision to pick attacking, positive players has obviously paid dividends and we’ve transformed – but we’re not the finished piece yet and we all know how and where we can improve.” Good luck to the rest of the teams at next year’s World Cup if they do get significantly better.
 

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