Sri Lanka Tour 2012
Sri Lanka's "Make-a-killing" Fields?
Hard to know where to begin with this one, so I'll simply describe without one word of a lie the events thus far at the Galle Test Match in Sri Lanka.
Arrive at Herbie's by train to find him exulting in some information he has dug up from the internet on the Surf City B & B , which is where Saint, Greavsie and Irish Pete will be staying in Galle.
Suffice it to say that the sordid details amused Herbie so much, he virtually laughed his internal organs out - however the Saint was not at all pleased when Herbie rang him at work to tell him that his hotel was being operated by the Dutch mafia.
The place may be called Surf City , but Good Vibrations were not evident at all.
The flight to SL was poor with no TV sets working so we had to make do with free beer for the entire trip - and I think its fair to say that I took full advantage of the airline's hospitality.
On our first day after arrival, we travelled down to Unawatoona to meet the Blade family and also found the Saint in a state of some "confusion" after his previous nights drinking session. We were all soon joined by PC Tintin, who had arranged convenient local digs nearby at 500 rupees per night - about pounds 2-50.
He seemed rather pleased with his lodgings, which included an en-suite toilet and shower - a hole in the ground with a rusty watering can suspended on a piece of string above it doubling up as shower and toilet - and we later learned that he had the added bonus of packs of wild dogs prowling around at night and howling till dawn.
Ticketing arrangements for the game were discussed.
We had already been tipped off by our Ace Cub reporter Wycombe that tickets would be 25 pounds per day - which represented a slight difference to previous tours viz:
In 2003 , 20 rupees or 10p
In 2007 , 150 rupees or 80p
In 2011 when the Convicts toured , 500 rupees or 2-50p
For this tour - 5000 rupees , or 25-00.
Wycombe was looking for a splash exclusive on the exploitation factors at work here but basically I guess it boils down to the fact that the Sri Lankans know that the English will fill the ground come what may.
Either that , or the Sri Lankan economy is in a worse state than that of the UK , which frankly I find hard to believe. Oooh , those bankers , eh?
The decision was made to watch the game for free from the top of Galle Fort instead of paying these silly prices, and having decided thus we headed off on the beer.
A fourteen-hour drinking session ensued , which ended in the Saint and Mr Blade falling off a wall at a beachside bar at about 3am - Mr Blade sporting the next day a lovely plank-sized bruise diagonally down his back which rather reminded me of the Patrick Troughton Vicar's death in that film "The Omen".
The Saint must have just bounced, as he seemed remakably unscathed in comparison.
During the evening an Addis Army name was settled upon for Irish Pete , namely " Spud".
A lovely self-deprecating Irishman from Ireland he is, to be sure:
" There was no potato famine in Ireland. Its just that nobody told us the buggers were under the ground!"
Day 1 of the Test
As we leave our Hotel feeling rather rough I notice to my extreme joy that Giles Clarke is staying here also - and Mr Clarke and his wife are just about to enter their air-conditioned limousine to Galle. Giles is looking resplendent in a bright yellow suit , which makes him look like an over-ripe banana.
Our own transport for the 25 minute run into Galle each day is more modest and consists instead of a death-race, white knuckle tuk-tuk ride from hell through traffic that makes Dhaka look like the Cotswolds in comparison.
We all meet on top of the Fort. The ground is packed - and there are no tickets available, even if we were prepared to pay the rip-off prices.
On tv I guess the setting looks idyllic but the heat up on the ramparts is similar to Devils Island, and a two hour session pre-lunch seems to be the most that members of our group can endure.
Our first lunchtime is spent in the bar. When we return to the Fort, we see that Sri Lankans are being admitted to the ground for free, and disguised accordingly, we all successfully nip through the barricades for nothing.
The game goes pretty well for England until the final session, when Monty drops two crucial catches and we are left to reflect upon how much damage this will do to our chances......
Everyone is feeling rough after the events of the previous night so no real hi-jinks to report on the drinking front.
Day 2 of the Test
We see Giles Clarke again today as we set off from the hotel. He is wearing another one piece suit, this time in Florida orange.
After another morning suffering on the Fort of Heat we repair to a lovely rooftop restaurant for lunch where we find many Addis members, too numerous to mention.
There is no sign of Spud or Greavsie.
We learn to our horror that Spud has popped his shoulder out whilst swimming in the morning , and has had to be taken on a three hour ambulance trip to Colombo, as the surgeons at Galle were not capable of performing his required operation today.
We are however introduced to some new characters. Three mates of PC Tintin from Bristol - Will , Gav and Dave - who I will collectively refer to as the Wurzels. All great fans of the Pet Shop Boys.
The Wurzels and PC Tintin have a splendid fine system in place for misdemeanours , admitted or otherwise , such as wimping out on a round.
A healthy kitty of fine money has already built up , but now the Kangaroo Court of The Right Honourable Sir Saint-Fedrick of Oxford is in session, and very little mercy can be expected.
Hundreds of rupees are quickly accumulated in fines for the most trivial of " offences".
To anyone , from Merseyside or elsewhere , looking for "Justice" , then my advice would be not to seek it at the Kangaroo Court of the Saint.
After lunch another great blag into the ground past a police sergeant.
Inside we meet Five - O and Gigi , who have travelled down from Hikkaduwa. As usual Five - O is happily tucking into the beer while Gigi counts the glasses wistfully.
On return to our hotel at stumps I swim past Giles Clarke in the pool and ask him whether he thinks Allen Stanford should go to the electric chair.
He blanks me so I splash him heartily as I swim past.
Our evening in Unawatoona is made complete by the return of Spud and Greavsie at about 8pm having travelled back from Colombo in a taxi. The operation has been a success , Spud is calm , in a sling , and with a generous supply of pain killers. His shoulder is now back in the right place thanks to Greavsie , who carried out the operation himself after five minutes tuition from a Sri Lankan surgeon while Spud was out cold under the needle.
Dr Greavsie sits there loking very smug and pleased with himself as everyone buys him beer by way of thanks , which he consumes with the rapidity of a Dyson hoover.
Day 3 of the Test
Mr Clarke is wearing a lemon number today , which seems very appropriate.
Same routine today, Fort , restaurant ( but with a lot more beer today ) and blag into the ground.
During our beer session PC Tintin began to show a rather unhealthy liking for my mosquito repellent tube , which he thought had phallic overtones, and might possibly have doubled up as a vibrator. Clearly the impact of this early arousal had consequences later, which I will cover below.
Herbie and Midnight then made the schoolboy error of inviting PC Tintin and The Wurzels to our posh hotel for the evening, in addition to the Blades ( who despite originating from Sheffield and now living as Convicts in Adelaide) are really quite respectable.
Sensing trouble ahead, Herbie retires to the hotel quiet space to work. Gotta pay for that West Ham season ticket somehow!
PCT and The Wurzels arrive.
Their first mission - to empty our room's mini-bar - is accomplished in double quick time, during which, I receive a knock on the door from the hotel manager explaining that if I require rent boys , the hotel can supply these , and there is really no need to bring my own supply from England.
After a quick illicit dip in our pool some rather gay horseplay ensues in our spa bathtub involving PCT " assuming the position" for the attentions of Wurzel Dave.
All rather distasteful , not what I would expect from the future head of the Met Police and an eminent geologist , and the boys are heavily censured and fined by Hanging Judge Saint the following evening.
My one consolation during all this nonsense - as PCT does a drunken strip / belly dance in our bathroom I notice he has accumulated about 150 mosquito bites , which gives me a savage sense of satisfaction.
As we repair to the hotel bar for cocktails ( should I use that word ? ) Giles Clarke and his wife see us all approaching and beat a hasty retreat to their room.
Day 4 of the Test
At breakfast Herbie and myself are actually sat within touching distance of Mr & Mrs Clarke. During breakfast , a large raven swoops down from a palm tree and carries off Herbie's croussant to its nest.
Neither of these portents bode well , I feel , for the result of the game.
When we arrive at the Fort for our morning sauna, amazingly , the Sri Lankan Minister of Culture has ordered an admission charge of 1000 rupees to view the game - which I'm afraid is the last straw for me. Together with orange-hat Martin, I circle the ground and we spot a gap between the main gate and its support pillar.
We nip through for free.
At this point, I would like to give thanks to Gilo / Streetfly for teaching me all he knows about blagging into the cricket for free over many, many years.
The game is lost early afternoon although a superb innings from Trott gives us all hope throughout.
When I return to the hotel Giles Clarke is in the pool and I try to engage him.
At first he blanks me so I use a more insistent tone:
" Excuse me , did the ECB know that the England fans were being charged 1000 rupees to go on the fort today?"
His reply was a classic.
" Harrumph , of course I knew. Seems like a perfectly fair price to me ".
Obviously , this man most definately has the best interests of English cricket and its supporters close to his heart!
My guess is that he was bullied at public school.
Tonight is the party for Herbie's 50th birthday and from a starting point of about 22 people we end up at 4am with a hard- core of about eight people drinking Arrack ( the local fire water ) at a beach bar. Vocal entertainment is provided by Midnight and Saint to the amusement of all.
During the earlier meal at a very classy beach restaurant, Five-O distinguishes himself.
Ordering another beer, he overbalances on his plastic beach chair (a la Wycome at the Banana Backpackers) and flies arse over tip into the sand - much to Gigi's amusement!
As I write this blog, it is 3.30 in the afternoon in Sri Lanka - and Herbie is still comatose in bed.
I know he enjoyed his birthday party. But four whole bottles of Arrack was probably overdoing it a bit.
Colombo here we come!
Love to all , from a MOSSIE BITE FREE Midnight.