England in Sri Lanka – 23rd October 2018

One of those days on which creativity takes over from news, where the desire to showcase the surroundings of this remarkable city take precedence over news. Not that there was much news. Mark Wood spoke with characteristic, and charismatic honesty about the excitement of watching Olly Stone’s international debut – and about how he would rather have been playing in his place. He had also seen the latest episode of the Al Jazzeira match-fixing documentary: “It’s time to put up, or shut up,” he said. “If there’s names involved, let’s have then out in the open.”

Mark Butcher was certainly out in the open in the midday Colombo sun. Having enjoyed a spectacular dinner at Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar  Sangakkara’s  “Ministry of Crab” restaurant the night before, with “possibly an extra glass of wine than was strictly necessary,” Butch was taken to the city’s busiest markets to record preview clips for the fifth and final ODI.

It was hot and steamy after a night of thunderous rain and the open drains were steaming like dog urine in a sauna. Butch was pushing a bead and clutching his mineral water. He didn’t miss a beat. Not a single re-take. That’s what happens when your mind is focused. You get it right, because you have to. Or REALLY want to.

It was time to try the local remedy –King Coconut juice. Unsurprisingly, and despite the skepticism of the first-timers, everybody was feeling better 15 minutes later.

Naturally in a market with such an extraordinarily diverse range of fruits and vegetables, half a dozen of which I could not identify despite coming here for 25 years, there were some old favourites. Like the freshly peeled ‘mandarin with chili salt.’

“Go for it,” I encouraged TalkSport’s intrepid reporter, James Savundra. And I was even good enough to taste three pieces with him, simultaneously. We tried our best, for a good minute, before coughing them up at the same time too..

If chilli/salt and mandarin was a tough combo, I suspect there might be a few marketing execs pondering the combo on the running socks I was about to buy. (And did,,,)

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