With most of the ODI group departing for home except a few who went on to the iconic Galle cricket ground. With the backdrop of the historic fort it is one of the most picturesque grounds in world cricket. England started by calling up Ben Foakes as cover for the injured Johnny Bairstow, which apparently he picked up playing football!! Will they ever learn? What will it take to stop it? A career threatening injury?
With the match sold out and the fort looking its glorious best with English flags draped over the edge. Hordes of English supporters were filling every vantage point. News filtered through leading up to the match that it could be the last test match held, because of the Pavilion not being in keeping with the fort area and could loose its Unesco World Heritage status because of it!
Once again England won the toss and batted first in what was Rangana Herath’s last game before retirement. After a few cheap wickets with England slipping to 103-5 before lunch Foakes steadied the ship with a superb 107 on debut. From that moment on England looked in complete control and won by 211 runs to end a 13 match loosing streak away from home and also winning for the first time in Galle.
During the test we held a Q&A at Le Grand (Galles’s newest luxury hotel) with Mike Gatting as our guest , canapés and cocktails with Andrew Maidstone presenting the questions. What a great job he did! The Butterflys team decorated this stunning location with our branding creating the perfect setting and a great night was had by all!
On the Sunday the 11th of November before some left for home there was a very moving memorial service at the fort by the tower with readings of soldiers that had died in both world wars. Wreaths were laid before a two minute silence and the last post was played by Billy the trumpeter!
Off we went to the Farm resort and Mandira at Hatton – a collection of Planter’s Bungalows which have been carefully restored to ensure that they radiate the revelry of the British Raj. The Nuwara Eliya district is stunning we stayed in luxurious bungalows and were waited on hand and foot. The tea capital of Sri Lanka has stunning views and the odd waterfall you could loose yourself in and we certainly did for a few days en route to Kandy. We stopped at a local liquor store one night to stock up the bungalows with a few beers, several locals were well on their way to being unconscious drinking lager and stout with 8.8 alcohol content!
Then it was chaos in Kandy, not of our making but by Aitken Spence did not confirm the hotels for the teams so we played a game of musical hotels which was not fun! Especially for me staying at the Queens right in central Kandy next to the mosque with prayers blasting out at 04:30 every morning. In return all those who were relocated to outlying hotels had a photo with the England team as an apology and thank you!
So! To the 2nd Test and yet again J. Root called the toss correctly and once again we batted. England found batting a bit difficult with only Butler & Curran playing a particularly good innings. After Sri Lanka batted we found ourselves 46 behind on the first innings total. Our 2nd innings was much better with Root top scoring with a sublime 124 probably his best innings to date! England quickly took 3 wickets before their middle order restored the balance and England took the remaining wickets in the morning to wrap up their first series win away for 3 Years!
Next stop Dumbulla for more temples an elephant safari, Sigaria Rock climbing and a local village tour before moving on to Columbo for the final test.
Remarkably J.Root called correctly for the 13th successive time and once again we batted, and as per usual we were two down early and Root was at the crease, this test will be remembered for the amount of no balls being bowled. Bairstow making 110 and Sri Lanka giving early Christmas presents in abundance away to England loosing 9 wickets for 67. So a 3-0 whitewash Benjamin (Guy) Foakes deservedly man of the series.
The entertainment was not just about the cricket – once again we had an enthusiastic and passionate group, a lot of fun and laughs along the way. I would like to thank our very own Coco the Clown who kept us amused with his dress sense and the tricks just kept coming! Big thanks to another great group of people on this tour, friendships once again being made. Bruce for his blogs and Don for the photography both have been spectacular.
I’m off home in two days where I will be busy in the office preparing for the wonderful trip we have planned in the Caribbean, there is still time to book.
Hopefully I will see old and new friends who have been on tour with us on the 19th December at the George 1V pub, Chiswick!
All the best