England in Sri Lanka – 28th October 2018

We woke up this morning to learn that there had, effectively, been a bloodless coup overnight with the President of the country unilaterally sacking the Prime Minister and installing a man whom he once regarded as a mortal enemy – and with a questionable record in the human rights department, to say the least.

There were various protest marches around the city and an obvious increase in the number of armed soldiers, riot police and water-cannon police trucks. Can’t be sure what sort of reaction they were expecting from the populace but they clearly weren’t in the mood to take chances.

As I’ve been writing and showing you for the last three weeks, the country – and Colombo in particular – is on an investment and development roll, but it is not without its controversies. Construction on the huge Telecommunications tower which dominates the capital’s skyline started four years and, like so many huge construction projects, both the budget and timeline have spiraled out of control. It still isn’t finished and is a constant reminder to the poor of the largesse of the country’s wealthy – its leaders. The Tower, incidentally, has been nicknamed the ‘Onion on Skewer.’

Two men really stood out for England tonight, and both fall into the ‘good men’ category. With appropriate apologies to Jason Roy who was dropped three times and ran out his captain en route to 69 from 34 balls which made the difference between a competitive total and a winning one, it was rewarding to see the bowling of Chris Jordan pay dividends after taking the effort to fly him all the way out here for just one game.

But probably not quite as rewarding as watching Joe Denly whack 20 from the dungeon at number seven – and then take 4-19 with his leg spin!

Ed Smith has made some brave calls since becoming chairman of selectors and, so far, he appears to share a similar feel for his job as Midas is alleged to have done with his. As Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth (Lawrence Booth @the_topspin) tweeted after the game:   “In fairness to Ed Smith, he’s been alluding to Joe Denly’s leg-spin all summer.” Most of us smiled indulgently.

He’s bound to have a few rogue hunches in future, and perhaps even fall foul of some questionable data, but it will be worth remembering how many things he got right in the first six months of his tenure.

The photograph looks like a Nightclub but is actually a Sports Bar called ‘Next Innings’. It is Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara’s second joint venture in the restaurant world (The Ministry of Crab, next door, has cracked the ‘Top 50 Restaurants in the World!).

The TalkSport team were invited along – the England team also cracked the nod – and the food, ambience and service were…everything you would expect from these two legends of the cricket (and now) restaurant world. It doesn’t officially open for another two weeks. But if you should happen to be in Colombo ever…the battered prawns, sushi and deviled chicken wings…

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