England in Sri Lanka – 15th October 2018

 

You can visit Dambulla and not climb to the top of the Sigirya Rock and nobody will blame you for being a culural heathen. It’s a fair challenge for the less physically conditioned and the chances of being airlifted out in the event of a serious lack of fitness are remote. But most visitors make a fist of it and, happily, none of them died today. That we were aware of.

Only five of the TalkSport team made it to the top. The climb up Lion’s Staircase isn’t for those with a fear of heights. It’s not for the impatient either. Lonely Planet’s guide suggests avoiding “midday and weekend”. We arrived at 12:00pm on Sunday.

The Rock was formed some 3500 million years ago and the first signs of human habitation date back to 5000 years BC. It’s basically been tinkered with ever since, Buddhist monks building more -and less – places to live and meditate. It was hard to keep up with which alterations and additions were from which era across the 4,000 years of its development, but kudos to those who thought a swimming pool was a good idea

If the culture or history wasn’t your cup of tea, there was always the physical exercise. All 1125 steps of it.

 

 

 

 

Later on in the afternoon there was physical exercise of a different king taking place. A fine group of eleven touring men, good and strong, were challenged to a 10-over match against the staff of the Jetwing Lake Hotel. Captain, manager and coach of the visiting team was the ever golden Matthew Hoggard, Ashes hero and tour-guide extraordinaire. Apparently.
  
“I’m learning on the job,” Hoggy said in between umpiring and bowling stints, of his new role. “I think I’m doing alright. Everybody seems happy. The most important thing, for them, is that I’m always available to have a beer. It’s quire tiring,” Hoggy admitted. With a weary smile.

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