The team experienced a wide range of conditions, one game proving to be virtually water-cricket, and enjoyed the facilities of two test match grounds, as well as revisiting Mathugama — where in 2009 they had been the first overseas tourists to play. Three of the seven games were won, no mean achievement given the contrast with UK weather, and others were close-fought. Both captain Sam Cato and his right-hand man, Nick Edmonds, passed 50 twice, and their partnership set up our victory in Mathugama (1-1 in the series!). Tom Speller proved the most successful bowler with two four-wicket hauls, while Cato was also consistently threatening in both pace and spin modes.
One innovation was a visit to Unawatuna Maha Vidyalaya, a school at Unawatuna supported by the Senahasa Trust (‘a small charity determined to make a real difference at community level in Sri Lanka’). The parents of the players raised money for the Trust by organising a fund-raising dinner in November. Much rebuilding was necessary after the tsunami, and the Trust also supports volunteer staff there. The local boys had been looking forward to a game against the tourists and, even though it had to remain an unofficial fixture, the welcome was massive and the excitement in a huge crowd enormous.
The picture above shows the ground at the school. Unawatuna Maha Vidyalaya has minimal facilities. It’s where Ollie Ratnatunga worked in his gap year (2009–2010).
This was a hugely enjoyable trip in which the cricketers gained valuable experience and also saw something of the needy side of the country.