Sri Lanka vs England Cricket Tour Diary - 2007
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Sri Lanka Tour Shirt 2007
Sril Lanka Tour Diary
6th December 2007
After a few hours travelling down to London we met at LHR terminal 4 at 6.30, we swiftly met the group and checked in with plenty of time to spare, with no initial problems this gave us time for a few hours shopping and a swift drink at the bar! The journey to Colombo was a pleasant experience and the airline was excellent!
7th December 2007
Once we arrived and reclaimed our bags, we were greeted with the Howzat Travel representatives along with our Sri Lankan partners. We then took the 1 hour ride over to the Galadari hotel, where we enjoyed a quick welcome drink before checking into our rooms. The rooms were extremely spacious and everyone was happy.
After a long days travelling an early night was in order although a few beers were a must for some of the tour!
8th December 2007
After a well deserved deep sleep, we awoke late ready for the city tour of Colombo. Tthe coach left the hotel at 1pm and we spent a good 3 hours experiencing Colombo city, this gave us an opportunity not only to get our bearings but also see some local sites. During the tour we experienced the hustle and bustle of the markets, Gangaramaya Temple and Viharamahadevi Park. We also had the opportunity to see the venue for the 2nd Test match at the Singhalese sports club.
After the tour we had a few hours to kill before the groups welcome dinner at 7.30. We congregated at the hotel reception before being led to the VIP lounge for a first class 5 course dinner. The wine and beer flowed after which the group headed out to a local venue purpose built for the English cricket supporters.
The remainder of the evening was spent listening to traditional Sri Lankan music with a band and dancers! The night had been a pleasant experience which gave us lots of opportunity to chat and share our early experiences of Sri Lanka.
Around 12 midnight we headed back to our hotel in anticipation of the first days play tomorrow.
9th December 2007
Today was an early start. We awoke around 7.15 and headed straight for some traditional English breakfast at the hotel.
The coach set off for the 4Km journey to the ground at 8.30. Once we arrived we headed straight out for a good walk around and see the players warming up. The benefit of being their early gives you plenty of opportunity to get close to the players with a few signature opportunities along the way.
Our seats were located in the members pavilion in an air conditioned box. we were also adjacent to the players balcony. Quite possibly the best seats in the house!
England won the toss... A perfect start, England decided to bat and Vaughan looked extremely comfortable. After a nervous few overs Cook was gaining some much needed confidence and was starting to knock the ball around freely this helped the score board move nicely along.
Vaughan was eventually out after Lunch for 87 and Bell looked edgy for his 15 after being caught by Mubarak from the bowling of world record breaking Muralitharan. The real drama then followed later in the day after Pietersen was given out for a ball that was originally dropped and Cook given out for an LBW decision that was never hitting the stumps. The 2 bad decisions left a sour taste after an enjoyable days cricket.
After the coach journey home, we headed out to the Cinnamon hotel and enjoyed some football on the TV. Some of the England Cricketers joined us for a sociable drink and a few barmy army chants.
Fingers Crossed England can bat well in the morning!!
10th December 2007
Again we awoke around 7.15 and headed straight for breakfast and then made the 15 minute coach journey to the ground.
The long day of batting took a miserable start when Collingwood was out after adding only a few runs. This dismissal allowed England Test debutante Stuart Broad to step up to the crease, unfortunately he only managed 2 runs before he was given out LBW to the bowling of Malinga. The pressure was well and truly on and Sidebottom and Prior did England proud batting up to lunch without the loss of any more wickets.
The good England start didn't last too long, before eventually being bowled out for 351 with Panesar and Harmison not bothering the scorers.
The England attack started extremely brightly at one stage Sri Lanka were 22-2 after Sidebottom taking 2 quick wickets including the prestige price of Sangakkara.
This was the end of the days wickets and Sri Lanka closed the day 105/2.
We then made our way just outside the main gate and boarded our waiting coach.
A quick dip in the pool was in order once we returned to the hotel and after a few of the group congregated at the hotel bar for a few beers and a local meal.
The evening was spent getting to know each other a little more and around midnight we all headed to our rooms to get some sleep.
11th December 2007
After the routine wake up and breakfast we headed off to the ground by coach.
The promise of early wickets didn't materialise and it was becoming apparent that Sri Lanka were going to get close to the England opening innings. Today seemed hotter than the rest, so a good gathering soon materialised on the grass banks for the afternoon session.
Once we arrived back at the hotel gathered at the hotel for a first class buffet meal and a few drinks sat outside on the terrace.
Around midnight we all retired back to the rooms for some much needed sleep.
12th December 2007
The coach left at 8.30 and we arrived at the ground where we spent some time in the Air Conditioned seats ready for the start of play.
Jayawardene was out after drinks for a mammoth 197 and we soon had the pleasure of witnessing Stuart Broad taking his first test wicket of Vas caught by Bell.
After lunch the game was soon heading away from England with the scores at 450 for 8. The best we could now hope for was a draw.
Soon after Tea Harmison took the wicket of Jayawardene and Sri Lanka declared leaving them with a lead of 200.
Vaughan and Cook then played superbly, batting confidently leaving England at 48 without loss at the close of play.
Tonight we had organised a traditional Sri Lankan meal for the group at a local food court, the meal was nice allthough very hot! We all had a selection of Curries, Meats and rice.
After tea we headed next door to the "Cheers Bar" to find a few England players who were more than happy to sign autographs and have their photo's taken with various members of the group.
Around 1am we headed back to the hotel and needed no encouragement for a good nights sleep.
13th December 2007
Today was our final time at the SSC and with play starting at 9.30 we arrived just in time for the start of play!
England needed to bat well and with Cook and Bell playing confidently it was looking like the inevitable draw.
Cook was out just before lunch for 62 and Bell managing another 50 with 54 gave the England fans something to cheer about!
Pietersen and Collingwood never looked in any trouble for the remainder of the day and when the rain poured at tea the draw was a certainty.
With the rain still persistent we were fortunate to witness up close the presentation ceremony and take some good photos.
We headed back to the hotel and a few lads descended upon the hotel bar! Today was Packets (One of the tour members) Birthday and the locals helped him celebrate with a special birthday cake!
At around 8pm we had an invite to visit the player's hotel and join them for a drink. The beer was flowing and a good night was had by all. We headed back to our hotel at around 1.30am for a much needed sleep.
Tomorrow was to be a long days driving!
14th December 2007
After a 6am wake up call we quickly headed down for some breakfast, and it wasn't long after that boarded the coach for Giritale. We had a short convenience stop on route and by 11am we had reached our first destination of the day, the Elephant orphanage at Pimmawela. Here we enjoyed around 60 elephants some of which are baby elephants found abandoned in the wild! It was a great spectacle to see the elephants being bathed and playing in the local river. This gave us a great opportunity to have our photo's taken with some of the elephants. After around 1 hour we continued on our journey and the next stop, Saruketha, wasn't far away where we enjoyed an afternoon beer and some lunch.
At 2.30pm we had arrived at our second excursion of the day, Dambula. Here we also managed to catch a glimpse of the Dambulla stadium which as just been granted Test status. We visited Dambulla Rock caves where we climbed up to the temple. After the climb we visited 5 rock caves with over 2000sq metres of painted walls, the largest area of paintings in the world.
After around 1 hour we set off for the final leg of our journey to the Royal Lotus hotel in Giratle. We were greeted by welcome drinks and once we had checked out our rooms we headed straight to the bar to quench our thirst and get some much needed food.
Tonight was an early night since the travelling had tired us all out!
15th December 2007
Today we had planned to leave the hotel at 9am so that we could visit Sigiriya. After a much needed lie in and pleasant breakfast we took the 1 hour 15 minute drive to the famous landmark the Sigiriya Rock. Here we were greeted with a truly spectacular view. Sigiraya is quoted as being the 8th wonder of the World and it wasn't hard to see why. The world heritage site was a vast area of gardens and history with lion rock rising 200 metres from the jungle scrub.
The climb to the submit proved to be a real experience and at the half way point the heavens opened which meant we all got saturated from the monsoon rain.
The later part of the climb was a little hairy but congratulations to Diane, Bruce, Alice, Lee, Andrew, Mark, David and Ian who all made it to the very top!
The journey back down proved to be much easier although the footpaths were pouring with water as it filtered down from the rock.
When we arrived back at the coach we purchased a few local souvenirs before taking the coach back to the hotel for lunch.
After lunch their was an afternoon excursion to Polonnaruwa. The weather was still very wet and some of the group took the opportunity to spend the afternoon at their own leisure whilst the remainder spent the afternoon visiting some ruins of Sri Lanka's second capital city where they enjoyed Kiri Vehera, the remains of a former temple of the tooth relic. They also visited a local museum full of interesting artefacts.
Once back at the hotel, Howzat Travel had arranged a special dinner for the group consisting of a selection of grilled meats and fish.
After a few social drinks our beds were again calling and it didn't take long to fall asleep after an eventful day.
16th December 2007
Today was our final day at the Royal Lotus and after breakfast we headed out for an excursion to Anuradhapura. This location was around a 2 hour drive from the hotel so the coach departed at 8am.
Anuradhapura was Sri Lanka's first capital city and undoubtedly it's grandest ancient city! Here we visited many areas of archaeological interest. These included, amongst others, the Brazen Palace, Kuttam Pokuna, and Sri Maha (Sacred Bo-Tree) which is over 2200 years old and the oldest documented tree in the world.
At 2.00pm we headed back to the hotel after stopping off for some lunch at the local Ceylon hotel. On our final leg of the journey we were extremely fortunate to find 3 elephants in the wild. With only around 4000 wild elephants this moment was something to savour.
We eventually got back to the hotel at 5pm where we found some of the guys who had decided to take a day off excursions. The guys shared there stories from their fun packed day which involved swamps and games of cricket with the locals.
With the whole group now back together we again took on the locals with a cricket match. The night climaxed with Adam donating his England shirt to the local team captain, nice moment to cap a thoroughly enjoyable day.
After tea an early night was in order, and we were soon all off to bed.
17th December 2007
After a 6am alarm we were soon all gathered for breakfast and boarding the coach for our trip down to Galle. After around 2 hours we made our first stop of the day at some spice gardens where we enjoyed a talk on all the local spices, a mixed fruit tea drink and a complimentary massage! After a browse around the shop we headed back on the bus and after around 1 hour we stopped off at Tony Fair to purchase some gifts for family and friends back home.
We eventually arrived at the Coral Sands Hotel at 7pm, with just enough time for some light refreshments at the bar before retiring to bed for an early night in anticipation on the 3rd test in Galle.
17th December 2007
We had news very early that the start of play had been postponed until 12 noon so they could finish building the stadium! After a nice breakfast we decided to leave the hotel at 9.30 to enjoy the pre match build up. Once we arrived it was no understatement that the ground wasn't ready. There was rumble everywhere stands not constructed and the place still looked very much like a building site. As before we were greeted by our Sri Lankan tour partners and we were led to our seats in the Municipity Stand. Once again the seats were quite possibly the best seats in the house.
We were all pleased to see Michael Vaughan had won the toss again. His decision to bowl first was met with mixed feelings in the England supporter's camp. Vaughan obviously thought getting 20 Sri Lankan wickets was the only way England could win the game. England started well taking the early wickets of Vandort and Tharanga and with England sitting pretty on 44 for 2 it was definitely England's morning.
The game then changed as Sri Lanka became over cautious looking to stretch out the game has much as possible. Late in the day England took the wickets of Sangakkara and Silva which left England slightly on top at 147'4.
Bad light eventually stopped play at around 5pm and the heavens opened. We made our way back to the hotel and after a quick freshen up a few members of the group went for a meal at the local Moonbeam restaurant. A good night was had by all and we were all looking forward to an exciting days play tomorrow.
19th December 2007
Today's play was due to start at 9.30 but with the overnight rain we thought this was unlikely, however after breakfast we left for Galle at around 8.30.
Play was delayed until 10.30, so we had ample time to wonder around and purchase some extra souvenirs from the stadium. Once play commenced England were unlucky to take early wickets. Sidebottom was bowling well and with Prior dropping a few catches it was looking like being Sri Lanka's day. Jayawardene batted well and the only England highlight was the Dilshan run out and the wicket of Jayawardene from the bowling of Bopara with the following ball.
We left the ground around 5.30 once the bad light had kicked it and enjoyed a swim at the pool and a buffet meal at the hotel restaurant. This evening we enjoyed a local fashion show at the hotel which resulted in Will (from our tour group) breaking his camera, a funny moment that kept us entertained.
We headed to bed at 11pm.
20th December 2007
After breakfast a few of the group decided to have a day away from the cricket where they enjoyed some snorkelling on the local reef. This gave them the opportunity to see the local giant turtles basking in the sun as well as being able to feed them seaweed from their hands!
The guys at the cricket were again disappointed with early lost opportunities. Prior dropping another easy catch to J about summed it up.
Sri Lanka eventually declared on 499-8 and sent England into bat. And then our worst nightmare. Vaughan out LBW for 1, Bell was then run out for 1, and when Pietersen got a snorter from Malinga it was looking very poor for England. The collapse continued leaving England in shatters for 61-6 by the time the rain came.
After a long delay the players eventually made it back on the field and the final 4 wickets fell for just 20 runs. England not surprisingly then had to follow on, leaving a tricky 1 over before the umpires offered the light. Todays cricket was very disappointing for the England cricket team and its loyal supporters.
Once back at the hotel, we enjoyed a bar meal along with a few light refreshments ready for an early nights sleep.
21st December 2007
Again we were up at 7am, down for breakfast and ready to board the coach for 8.30. Today was going to be a long day for England to bat out. Fortunately for them the rains came. England made it to lunch after only loosing only 1 wicket. Vaughan had been out for 24 due to some great bowling from Welegedara.
During the lunch Interval the rain began leaving a few of us stranded up in the fort. We sheltered in the fort and enjoyed lunch and few afternoon refreshments keeping dry from the thunderstorms.
The rain had meant there would be no more play so we headed back to the hotel.
The group descended on the bar before enjoying another fabulous buffet meal from the restaurant.
22nd December 2007
This morning the weather looked much better so we headed off as per normal at 8.30 knowing that England would need to bat well if they had any chance of saving the game.
England were looking extremely comfortable during the morning session with Cook in fine form and Bell knocking the ball around without any trouble. Bell was eventually out for 34 thanks to the bowling of Muralitharan. And Pietersen was looking good before disaster struck, England went from 200-2 to 200-5 within 3 balls. Pietersen out, Collingwood out and Bopara run out with a school boy error, his 3rd innings without scoring a run.
Fortunately for England Prior held his own and Cook was not fazed by the England collapse. England were again lucky see the rain at about 2pm.
After an initial 1 hour break the covers were off and more cricket would follow. Sri Lanka tried their hardest to seal a deserved win, Cook was eventually out for 118 due to a good ball from Welegedara.
Some 20 minutes later the heavens opened with a downpour of rain like no other. This time there was no chance of any more play. The game was eventually declared a draw around 4.30pm and we stayed around to watch the presentation.
The final few minutes gave us an opportunity to say goodbye to the some of the locals and friends we had made over the cricketing days. A local fellow called Guyan was an absolute pleasure to meet a true legend in his own right!! (Hopefully we'll see you in England next time buddy!)
We eventually got back to the hotel at around 5pm and had a quick shower before heading down the road to a local bar called 'Sam's' to watch some football and enjoy our last night in Sri Lanka. We eventually headed over the road for some Pizza at Mambo's caf' where we enjoyed some good music and the night climaxed with yet another firework display.
Bed was calling at around 12 midnight and a good night was had by all.
23rd December 2007
Today was our final day in Sri Lanka we had a leisurely morning at the hotel, after breakfast the group congregated on the beach outside the front of the hotel for a group game of beach cricket. Real fun was had by all especially watching Mark with his fielding antics. Good effort Fella!
After beach cricket we had a final opportunity for either a swim at the pool or some last minute shopping, before the coach left for Colombo at 3pm. The final coach journey took us straight up the Galle road to Colombo where we checked back in at the Galadari hotel.
At 12 midnight we set off on our 45 minute journey to Colombo International airport for our flight home.
This was now the end of the tour, which had been an absolute success. We had seen 2 draws at Colombo and Galle and at times the cricket had been poor, although we had witnessed some outstanding individual performances.
Sri Lanka really is a beautiful country, the people are amongst the friendliest I have ever met and the reopening of the Galle stadium was a delight to be a part of.
Other tour highlights included 'Packets' Birthday celebrations, Hugh Stuck in the mud, meeting and socialising with the England players, visiting Sigirya Rock amongst many others.
Everyone in the tour group got on fantastically and I'm sure we will remain friends for years to come.
We look forward to seeing you all again on future tours.