Ten days of Test cricket in 13 days is always hard but doing that in a place like Sri Lanka is probably the hardest.
Having arrived in Colombo after meetings in Birmingham and Dubai, the heat was definitely on after Sri Lanka won the first Test in Galle. I joined fellow match officials Steve Davis, Ian Gould and David Boon for the rest of this 3 match series.
The second Test was being played at the SSC ground where I partnered “Gunner” on field – a venue that typically produces only draws. This match was no exception as the pitch resembled a few highways that I frequently drive on. Interestingly enough, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bowl first – a decision that they probably regretted as Pakistan declared at 5/500 and plenty. It wasn’t the only ordinary outcome after a toss as when Gunner and I tossed for ends with our traditional bail toss, he seemed to get the better end to umpire with match appeals around 50% compared to my end. We also had our fair share of rain interruptions which gave us plenty of time to solve the problems of the world off the field.
It was also a game where I didn’t get to change ends until around lunchtime on the 5th day – hard work for all the players and umpires.
After a few days in Dubai, Steve came back to join me for the third Test and Gunner went back to “summer” in England. I think he was happy to be heading home for a number of reasons, least of which was to escape the “currant bun” of Colombo.
We all headed off to Kandy the day after the match and we stopped at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage to break up the 4 hour journey.
We arrived in time to see the elephants taking their daily bath down at the river. We decided to stop at the restaurant by the river, have cleansing ale and a bite to eat. Just as well no one was around with a purple shirt for our photo as we might have been mistaken for the Wiggles!?
There were certainly some interesting sights as the elephants went about their business at the river – none more so as this bull elephant below started his journey back home – he made us all pretty inadequate!
We arrived in Kandy that evening and checked into the hotel and were greeted with the dulcet tones from the local temple (a recording of songs that was to be played for around 4 hours every day) and our fair share of resident mosquitoes. I could deal with the mozzies but not the singing and set about my challenge of seeking to be moved to a quieter room – mission accomplished the following day.
The 3rd Test was being played at Pallekele, which is about a 30 minute drive through the hills of Kandy from the hotel. A really nice ground spoiled by the 64 steps from the playing surface to the umpires’ room. Steve and I got a serious calf exercise training session daily!!
After a tough first day of the match where 13 wickets fell, we had no play at all on day 2 due to rain with the day abandoned shortly after 3pm. I must credit Steve and Ranmore (our 3rd umpire) with the best call of the match when they predicted a completed washout at the early time of 11.13am – very wise men and too good for me. This loss of play made the next 3 days very long affairs with 98 overs to be bowled every day. As it turned out, we had both teams call the match off inside the last hour for a draw, when really both teams were in a winning position the night before. Very strange and disappointing to go through a 5 day match for this result. Still, Sri Lanka won their first Test series in 3 years and that is something – their first series win without Murali apparently.
We headed back to the hotel for a shower and change and then boarded the bus bound for Colombo airport – it’s about a 3 hour journey. I made a good call on this trip by taking a pillow with me and tried to sleep a little, but made a poor decision to sit behind one of helpers that the Galle match officials had nicknamed “Rexona” – I’ll let you figure out why that called him that the whole trip! Steve and I caught a 3am flight to Dubai where he is off to a series in England and I’m back to Australia for a few weeks. At least we both got about 3 hours sleep on the flight before both tucking into an Emirates Lounge hot dog for breakfast – both fine athletes we are.
Time to board to flight to Sydney and get back to being a husband, parent and father for a short time.
Take care, Simon.