Hello to all. Sorry CFUtd has gone missing over the last two test matches. I was unlucky enough to be tying the knot… In hindsight, the wedding should have been planned in the winter so I was able to get to both my current home test match (the WACA) and the ground breaking first day/night test in Adelaide.
Firstly, a big thanks to Yvette Hollings for her thoughts on the festivities of day 1 of the Adelaide test. I think she gave a great account of the day and touched on many of my own feelings towards some of the politics involved with the introduction of the new format. Thanks again Yvette.
I am fortunate enough that my better half has a love of travelling as much as myself, and also enjoys some off the beaten track adventures. It was actually her that suggested we go to Sri Lanka for our honeymoon…. Good woman.
Now. Down to cricket.
From the moment you get off the plane in Colombo the first question people ask is “where are you from sir”? When you reply “Australia!” there is almost even money offered that the conversation goes straight to cricket. Every single person that has struck up a conversation about cricket has the utmost respect for our national team, reminding me how lucky we are to have a team that is always competing for top honours.
Sri Lanka has a population of just over 20.5 million, so only a little bit smaller than ourselves by the numbers. But, there can be no doubt that there is a huge gap in funding to grassroots cricket and facilities. I was actually told just today that the national sport for Sri Lanka isn’t even cricket!!! It’s Volleyball!! Not in 100 years would I have predicted that. Especially since this was the first time I had even heard volleyball mentioned. Incredible.
Looking at the grassroots side of things, while overflowing with passion for the game, from what I have seen, Sri Lanka has a clear disadvantage in facilities. When I think about the drive from my house into Fremantle (maybe 5ks), I pass at least two cricket grounds that are used for kids on weekends (and then in the winter are used for AFL). So far, in Sri Lanka, I haven’t seen any grounds for similar use that compare in their upkeep. Most sports grounds in Australia are kept very well. Even the ones I thought look shabby at times are actually kept very, very well. The mind immediately starts to wonder just how much sporting talent in Sri Lanka and similar countries that fall through the gaps. How many kids are missed because they miss the chance to be seen?
Sri Lanka in the shorter formats are formidable. If you are in the same side of a T20 or ODI World Cup draw as the men in purple, you know you have to work hard for the win. They don’t give much away. A true testament to the pride they have playing for their country. How good would it be to see this followed through to the test arena? Imagine a consistently strong Sri Lankan (and West Indies) test team. What a great thing for world cricket. Both of these nations bring an atmosphere to cricket that few others can. Personally I’m pumped for the series over here in July and August next year
. We haven’t had the best away record over the past five years and they will be keen to send us packing. I think it would be a great tour to get involved with.
Over the next week, there are a few important stops and meetings planned. We are heading to Galle to hopefully catch some local action at the famed Galle Cricket Ground. Then next stop, Kandy, to get a look inside the gates at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, after which we’re back to Colombo to fly home and let reality sink in again.
I would like to say a big thanks to all the Sri Lankan people that have greeted us so warmly so far. From our tuk tuk drivers, hospitality workers and everyone in between, we couldn’t feel more welcome.