England in Sri Lanka – 5th November 2018

A day off – not intentionally because England had a full practise session arranged, but it was not to be. We’ve had a few ‘proper’ rainstorms on this tour already but this one was a real 70 from 28 balls. When the restaurant staff starting pulling down the waterfront blinds before a drop had fallen it seemed excessive, but so it did when the ground staff covered the entire playing surface in Dambulla. And Pallekelle. And Ketterama. They know what they’re doing.

Galle Stadium was covered from head to toe for most of the day. The playing surface, that is. But as we have learned already on tour, monsoon downpours can mean delays of…40 minutes. The England team and their 3000+ supporters should be preparing for a full Test match with no more than brief interludes. No matter how wet they get during them.

England team manager Phil Neale was up on the ramparts of the Fort this afternoon, sharing the sights and taking pictures with his wife. “Got to be done, hasn’t it?” he smiled. Indeed it does.

The engineering of the place is extraordinary, starting with the landing of the Portuguese explorers in 1505 and continuing with the Dutch and British who recognised and valued the Island as a critical port on the ‘spice Route’. But it goes back even before that having featured on Ptolmya’s ‘World Map’ in the second century AD. Galle was an intrical part of the trading triad of Greece, Arabia and China.


 

Now it is one of the coolest and most modern enclaves in the subcontinent. Italian coffee shops and gelato ice-cream parlours feature prominently and there are well over two dozen boutique hotels and guest houses.

The economic off-spin for the tourist haven of Unawatuna, just three kilometres down the coast, has been exponential for the region. The beaches and ocean are awesome and room rates (and quality) suit everyone from back-packers to middle-age crises cruisers.

It really is time to start switching very firmly and strictly into Test match mode. It won’t take much, or long. This is going to be a bigger challenge than most supporters realise. Rarely has a nation fielded a greater disparity in talent between their Test and ODI teams as this Sri Lankan one.

There is increasing concern, by the way, about the political situation here. But we’ll keep our ears to the ground and eyes on the horizon.

Sign of the day!

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