Lincolnshire Cricket on Tour – Week 2

Day 8

The girls and boys followed up yesterdays match day with our second games in Columbo.  For the boys, the international venue of the P.Sara oval would be today’s venue, home ground to the worlds all-time leading wicket taking Muttiah Muralitharan. St Peters College was to be our opposition for the day.  The girls were to make the short trip to the Thurstan College Cricket ground to take on a district team from Galle.

At the P.Sara, the boys took up residence in the Sri Lankan home dressing room and changed in the spots where the likes of Jayasurya, Aravinda de Silva and Sangagarra had gone before. The temperature was getting up and after winning the toss our captain Aayush decided on a change intact and to bat first.  The run chase began well and at 48 for 1 after the first 10, the Lincs side was well placed.  Aayush continued his run of good form to register his second half-century of the tour and despite Pranav Pobala having to retire (a casualty of the fierce mid-morning heat) the prospect of a healthy first innings total looked likely. Our opposition introduced a pair of talented spinners and suddenly runs were much harder to come by.  Aaysuh departed for an excellent 52 and sparked a mini-collapse.  Alex Hodson steadied the ship and played with a great deal of maturity as he held the lower order together with a determined inning of 40 that helped the Lincs team reach a total of 152 all out from 39 overs.

Over at Thurstan College, our girls again found themselves in the field.  Having suffered a couple of casualties overnight a number of players had to put in an extended shift in the field.  The temperature soon got into the late ’30s and again our girls found themselves against strong opposition.  Some accurate early bowling resulted in our opposition teetering at 50 for 4, Caitlin Phillips (1 wicket for 40 runs), Hania Khan (2 wickets for 26 runs) and Annie Roberts (1 wicket for 34 runs) shared the wickets and the prospect of bowling our opposition out for an under par score was on the cards.  Unfortunately for us, the fourth wicket brought together two very talented girls who played extremely well.  They took full advantage of any loose deliveries and as our fielders began to slowly melt in the 38-degree heat, the team from Galle began to pile on the runs.  No more wickets would fall and the innings closed on 236 for 4.

Back to the P.Sara and the boys took to the field.  Dan Knapton and Josh Joy opened up proceedings for Linc’s and were met by a pair of Sri Lankan batsman who had clearly seen the weather forecast and was in no mood to mess about.  Both batters were in ultra-aggressive mode and set about chasing down our total in super speed time.  With only two men allowed out of the inner circle, life quickly became tough for our opening pair.  Our captain tried to mix our attack up and the switch brought about the first wicket, Zak  Shelbourne continuing his good form from the previous day trapping opening batsman Hilak leg before (for 45 from 15 balls!!!).  Like Columbo buses the second wicket came along almost immediately, again Zak Shelbourne was the provider as Lumbani Gondue held onto a catch at mid-off.  A 3rd and 4th wicket fell to Henry Park and Saif Khan and the visitors were on 118 when the heavens opened.  The thunderstorm that was to follow was something to witness and the ground quickly became a lake rendering the match abandoned.  The rain was so hard that our resident scorer Martin Wright had to flee the scorebox (located on the far side of the ground) as the rain started pouring in and had to then endure the wet, lonely walk across the quickly flooding outfield of the P.Sara.

Again, as with our previous games, there were positives to draw out of the match and some experiences that will help our players to grow as cricketers.

Over at Thurstan College, the girls were grateful for the interval and the chance for some much-needed shade and lunch.  Team manager Kathy provided opted for the local option for lunch, an interesting choice.  A mouthful in and as the spice took hold it was clear that Kathy had underestimated the spiciness of the rice.  Ruing her decision to go local Kathy made a dash for the for yoghurt, took some deep breaths and a sat down in the shade. With normality restored our run chase could get underway.    Again our girls found themselves up against quality opposition with the opening pair, in particular, impressing with their pace and accuracy.  Carly Rush again shone with an innings of 25 but unfortunately only Emelia Dutton, going in at the top of the order could manage double figures.  We were eventually bowled out for 84 and finished the game just before the early evening downpour that scuppered the boys game arrived.

Back to base for of cool off an evening meal before the standard visits to Kathy for Alo Vera and bed.

No cricket tomorrow, a tour of Columbo and a visit to a turtle sanctuary awaits our players.

Day 9

A rest day today after two matches in the last two days for the boys and girls.  After breakfast, the players headed to the beach and took part in boys vs girls, noughts and crosses competition.  The boys struggled to grasp the basic concept of the game and soon found themselves falling behind.  The margin widened and before it became embarrassing the game was brought to a head,  the girls coming out convincing winners.  After a quick dip in the sea, the players headed back to the hotel to shower, lunch and get ready for the afternoon city tour of Columbo.

Our tour guides arrived and we headed into Columbo. The next few hours were spent being escorted around the various city sights.  Government buildings, temples, embassies and Prime minister residences were all on the agenda, all enjoyed from the sanctuary of our air-conditioned coaches.  After a quick stop back at Mt Lavinia, the touring party took the short walk along the beach to the turtle hatchery.  Players, parents and managers spent the next hour or so getting up close with a variety of turtles species before getting the opportunity to release the baby hatchlings and help them start their journey to the ocean.  The party left confident that we had done what we could to help them on their way.  The walk back turned into a dash for the hotel as the heavens opened and all arrived back at HQ dripping wet and in need of a change of clothes and a shower before the evening meal.

Tomorrow sees the start of back to back matches again for our players.  The girls head to the international P. Sara oval and the boys to the Moors cricket ground.

Day 10

Day the saw a return to the cricket.  Our boys headed to Moors Cricket Club in Columbo and the girls had their chance to play at the P.Sara Oval.

As has been the story of the whole tour, the temperature was quickly up to 30 degrees and showing no signs that the mercury wouldn’t continue to rise throughout the day.

The boys agreed on a 40 over game and on winning the toss elected to put Kingfisher CC in to bat.  The young Sri Lankans were quickly into their stride and took the attack to our bowlers. Despite a steady flow of boundaries on a pitch that offered little assistance to seam or spin, we managed to take regular wickets.  Dan Knapton again impressed with figures of 3 for 46, Lumbani Gondwe too 2 wickets and the rest were shared amongst the Lincs attack.  In the end, a total of 269 was not as many as it could have been at one stage and whilst it would take something special to chase that total down in 40 overs, it certainly wasn’t a lost cause.

Over at the P. Sara, the girls also won the toss and opted to field first.  Our bowlers found some early rhythm and were able to pin the home side down in the early stages.  Rebecca Austin and Hania Obaid took two wickets each and were particularly impressive.  Our fielding unit dug in well and put in a spirited effort in the sweltering conditions. Lincs managed to restrict our opposition to a par score of 159.

After an incident-free lunch (Kathy opting to not eat the local lunch today) our run chases began.  After the first 15 overs, both the boys and the girl’s games were interesting poised.

Consistent performers for the girls all week with the bat have been Carly Rush and Megan Quinlan and that remained the case today as the pair both battled hard against some top quality Sri Lankan spin.  Captain Phillips chipped in towards the end of the innings and probably claimed the shot of the day as she crunched the young spinner through the covers to register one of the days few boundaries.  The late charge came a little late and the target of 159 was ultimately to prove beyond our reach.  We finished on 118 for 6 with Megan finishing not out having batted for well over an hour in the late 30-degree heat.

Over at Moors CC, the boys game was building towards an exciting climax.  At 150 for 4 with 15 overs left the game was very much still in the balance.  Our captain Aayush was again starting to build an innings of note (getting off the mark with a first ball maximum helps to settle the nerves!)  and Ben Conroy enjoyed his best outing so far on tour with a stylish 32.  Our boys continued to regularly find the rope and as our score clicked over the 200 mark excitement of the first win on tour began to mount.  Aayush was eventually bowled for an outstanding  89 and that sparked a mini-collapse. Despite the best efforts of the lower order we eventually came up 16 short of our target.  A fantastic effort to score 253 from 40 overs and whilst it was disappointing to come up short the boys again had lots of positives to draw from the match.

Back to the hotel to freshen up ahead of tonights presentation evening.  During the downtime before our evening meal we, unfortunately, suffered our first serious accident of the Tour.  Rebecca Austin unfortunately slipped and fell by the pool and suffered a blow to the head.  Lion Sports and our welfare team sprung into action and once Graeme (Rebbeca’s father had been located (fishing of the rocks in front of the hotel) Rebecca was whisked away to the hospital where she would go on to receive 9 stitches.  Throughout the whole episode, Rebecca was fantastic and it was great to see her and Graeme return to the hotel late at night.  Rebbecca bruised but smiling and fit to travel home tomorrow.

The presentation ceremony was a lovely affair.  Players and parents were treated to a fantastic video that had been compiled by our resident photographer form Lion Sports, Sam who has been with our party all week. Awards followed and the following collected their much-deserved accolades for their cricketing performances:

The batter of the tour (boys) – Aayush Patel
Bowler of the tour (boys) – Dan Knapton and Savraj Nijjar
All Rounder of the tour (boys) Matt Barry
The batter of the tour (girls) – Carly Rush
Bowler of the tour (girls) Hania Obaid
All Rounder of the tour (girls) Megan Quinlan

After the cricket awards, some ‘alternative’ awards were presented. The Daniel Sturrige award for the most injury-prone player went to Chloe Leggate. The ‘no fear’ award went to Hania Obaid. The Alo Vera award went to Matt Barry, Josh Joy, Dan Knapton, Zack Shelbourne and Will Wright. The Squashy awards (for the player most resembling a sweet) went to Megan Quinlan, Pheobe Spicer, Kaitlin Phillips, Caylen Jones and finally the worst dress sense award went to Maxwell Mullins.

The evening was rounded off by a rendition of the classic ‘Sweet Caroline’ by the boys and everyone headed to bed in good spirits excited for our final game of the tour tomorrow.

Day 11

The last day of the tour is here and the teams awoke to another beautiful Sri Lankan sun rise.  Today would see the final games for our players and it was a change around of venues as the boys headed back to the P. Sara and the girls headed over to Moors CC.

After breakfast the buses were loaded up and each team set off on their short journeys into Columbo.  The boys were to take on the local  Isipantana College and for the girls the Nittambowa Ladies team provided our opposition for the day.

After an ‘interesting’ pre game speech on the bus from Max Mullins, during which he announced alternative winners for the awards presented at last nights presentation evening and declared a new found hatred for baby turtles the boys arrived at the P. Sara and again took up residence in the Sri Lankan home dressing room.  We lost the toss found ourselves in the field.  A 30 over game was agreed due to the fact that we were leaving Sri Lanka in the evening (and the boys still needed to pack!). Although wickets were tough to come by our bowlers performed well.  The two wickets that did fall went to Matt barry and Zak Shelbourne, but some economical bowling form our spin department of Pranav Pobala, Aayush Patel, Max Mullins, Henry Park and Josh Joy helped to restrict our opponents to probably a slightly underpar score of 163 for 2.  Our fielders left the field for the last time on tour, grateful that from a fielding perspective the tour had come to an end.  A last lunch of chicken rice and a rapidly warming yoghurt was hoovered up by the team and thoughts turned to the run chase.

Over at Moors the girls kept up the tradition of fielding first.  Playing a 25 over game the girls, as the boys had done, found wickets difficult to come by.  They bettered the boys by 1, taking three Sri Lankan wickets.  The wickets fell to Phoebe Spicer, and the Roberts’s (Annie and Mille). Again, as with the boys our girls bowled tightly and were able to restrict the home team to a score of 170.

The run chases began with both teams hunting what had proved so far to be elusive wins on Sri Lankan soil.  Over at the P. Sara the chase got off to a good start with Alex Hodson regularly finding the middle of the bat.  Alex found an able partner in Drew Sylvester and the pair set about the task of chasing the total down.  Both mixed attack with defence and ran the home side ragged at times as they continually took quick singles and turned ones into twos in the fierce early afternoon Columbo heat. Alex passed his 50 and continued to go through the gears, regularly finding the ropes in a splendid innings that was eventually brought to halt by the coaching staff as the total came within reach.  Alex was retired for 71 not out.  We stumbled a little towards the closing stages but senior player Will Wright showed composure and maturity in guiding the team home with one ball to spare to complete a memorable first win for the boys on tour.

Over at Moors the girls found life a little tougher and struggled to get to grips with the quality bowling attack of the Nittambowa Ladies.  Megan, as she had done all tour dug in and led the way as she batted with great determination and application for her score of 18.  Unfortunatly Megan ran out of partners and the girls eventually struggled to a score of 75 all out form 24 overs.  Again our girls found themselves against quality opposition but in the spirit of the tour throughout, our girls never gave up and fought hard to the end.

The buses headed back for the last time to Mt Lavinia where our players enjoyed one last dip in the pool before packing and heading down for a last supper as a touring squad.  We bid a sad farewell to hotel staff and the lion sports team as we headed to Columbo airport to start our epic journey home.

A fantastic time was had by all and the memories form the tour will stay with players, parents and management for a lifetime.

Thank you Dubai and Sri Lanka, you have been great!