England in Sri Lanka – 19th October 2018

The third ODI finished a few minutes before midnight but that was far from the end of the production with Podcasts needing to be recorded and the real workers left with much to do before departure. After many years of touring I’m perfectly clear about who works hardest on outside broadcasts, and it’s not the broadcasters.

Behind TalkSport’s commentary team are three men who put in double the hours of those whose voices you hear. Engineer Adam Reed is actually a highly social creature but you might not think so because you hardly see him. He departs for the venue before everyone else and is the last out. Producers Sal Ahmad and James Savundra aren’t far behind. On Wednesday night Sal and Adam wouldn’t have eaten for 14 hours had somebody not brought dinner to them, so devoted they were to ensuring the coverage was flawless. 

That depends, of course, on the men behind the microphones and there was a new personal record for me when I stayed on air for an hour and a half before a ball was bowled – fortunately I have learned to make the experts alongside me do most of the work. Darren Gough, host of TalkSport’s ‘Drive Time’ show for a decade, can talk for a week. Mark Butcher and Gareth Batty, too, have been hired for a good reason.  All I have to do is keep asking questions.

It takes a while to unwind after a production but we managed to squeeze the process into about 90 minutes last night with the help of Arack – Sri Lanka’s national rum. Even so, 3.00am bedtime isn’t something the likes of Batty and I have been used to since children. Two years in his case, 18 in mine.

Boutique Hotels are beautiful and luxurious but also beyond our normal experience – there is certainly nobody around when you arrive back at 1:00am. But the air in the garden is cool and we kept our voices low as we reflected on the skill and brutality of England’s win. They are a monster unit. 

41-year-old Batty reckons his best achievement on tour so far has been negotiating a deal with the local gym, just 150 metres from our beautiful base. 1000 rupees per day was the offer, but he suggested 1000 rupess for the week might be fairer – on the basis that we would promote the establishment on social media. Deal done. 

“I hope you’re on Twitter and whatever, Manners,” said Batty 15 minutes into our first workout. “Because I haven’t got a clue about any of that stuff. I’m not on anything.”





England and Sri Lanka both had a day off today. Two-nil up and two to play. The world’s number one ranked team can only be stopped one way. If they are hit by one of the country’s red buses which drive as though endangering passengers lives is a critical part of the passage, not just a luxury.

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