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En route and first impressions

We assembled in the BA lounge, tour leader Allan Lamb and wife Lindsay and Graham Gooch and his partner Karen.

Lamby I know well from 2 previous tours to South Africa  and India, Goochie less so.

His run accumulation of 44,846 first class runs at an average of 49 and 8,900 Test runs at 42 is impressive, particularly as many of these were garnered after he turned 30.

The era in which he played his part with English cricketers from Boycott to Brearley, to Botham to Gower, produced strong personalities and world class batters but England could never get the better of the Windies, nor for most part the Aussies.

Interestingly, Allan Lamb qualified for England as Gooch played for Lamb’s native Western Province.

Champagne was ordered and drunk as the newbies were introduced to the fold.

Conversation was more about Sr Lanka than its cricket, though Lamby recalled his first trip when, after drinks with the High Commissioner, the following day the latter was assassinated. Before the first ball was bowled a firecracker went off and Foxy Fowler threw himself to the ground believing he was under fire.

The Tamil Tigers are less belligerent these days so it’s a relatively pleasant place to play cricket with its people singled out for their friendliness, which after 12 hours here I can only endorse.

As to the cricket, the feeling is Moeen Ali will take the problem three spot but I made a case for the inclusion of Ian Bell who hit 6 centuries last season and does not give his wicket away. Perhaps, at 36 , the feeling is he is too old to be considered but Joe Denly is 32 and he was recalled.

For me long haul airline travel is something to be endured not enjoyed. I am fortunate enough to afford business class but this does not resolve the long airport queues, the aggressive security and the equally long queues at immigration the other end.

As business class goes, Sri Lanka airlines is not the best but at least it’s direct.

The in-flight entertainment was mediocre, the food the same level: the most tasty thing I had was the wonderful Ceylon teas served in a China cup.

It’s too early to offer all but the most superficial opinion of the country. The international airport had an air of cheerful chaos.

We took the dual carriageway south to Galle. Alongside the roads were shops of corrugated iron, more like ‘lean-to’s, which generated an ambience of third world poverty with which any traveller to the sub-continent is familiar.

We are based in Wellgama Bay near Galle where the first Test is played. It’s a wide bay of sandy beaches. We are in the well-appointed Marriott.

So far so good and no sign of the monsoon.

About Douglas Heath

Douglas Heath began his lifelong love affair with cricket as an 8 year-old schoolboy playing OWZAT? Whilst listening to a 160s Ashes series on the radio. He later became half-decent at doing John Arlott impressions and is a member of Middlesex County Cricket Club. He holds no truck at all with the T20 version on the game. More Posts