Director of Cricket Alan Campbell and boys reflect on an influential trip to Sri Lanka to play cricket, by far the country’s most popular sport.
A squad of twenty-four players toured Sri Lanka playing cricket during the Term III school holidays. They played 10 matches against prestigious Sri Lankan schools on both First Class and Test Match grounds. The hot and humid conditions were a challenge for the boys but as always they competed well to win five out of ten matches played.
The highlight was the T20 tournament which was played in the R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium with an appearance by Test cricket great Mahela Jaywardene. However, this overseas tour was not only about cricket.
Four boys who attended share their impressions of what was a life-changing experience for some.
Oliver Brown (IV)
"When our group arrived in Sri Lanka, I had no idea what to expect, as I had never travelled to the region before. Of course, I’d heard stories of the heat and humidity, but I’d never thought it would be as hot or as difficult to play in as it was… and I was in no way prepared for it. From the moment we left the airport, it was us against the weather, and this was confirmed when we started playing our first game.
Having never been to a developing country, I was taken aback at first and subsequently very cautious. The road rules seemed not to apply, houses were often unfinished, and sometimes seemed uninhabitable. However, as the trip transpired, I began to really embrace this difference, and it certainly opened my eyes to how people can live a happy life despite everyday challenges compared to our own.
I had such a great time playing against our opposition – the boys from various Sri Lankan colleges, and the weather. We were all enriched by playing in completely different conditions and against some unorthodox, yet effective tactics and strategies.
I’m thankful for this experience and it is one that will stick with me forever. Our trip helped me to forge strong bonds between the other boys who attended and I hope in the future other Grammar boys get to experience Sri Lanka like we did."
Aarya Bhatia (IV)
"From the first bus ride to the hotel from the airport, all of us could appreciate the true skill of our driver as he effortlessly weaved through the chaotic traffic. That continued through the trip, leaving us on edge as he dodged dogs, cows and tuk-tuks on the small roads of Sri Lanka.
All the Sri Lankan teams that we played were very capable despite being younger.
Charlie Abel (V)
"Walking out onto the field with the boys on the first game of the tour, we were greeted with 35 degree temperatures and 91 percent humidity which the locals described as ‘perfect cricket weather’. Three cases of heat stroke and a few cases of Delhi Belly later, the boys certainly gained experience on how to play efficient, tactical cricket under some extremely tough sub-continental conditions.
Despite the very unfamiliar environment, the boys went through the tour with a tenacious spirit and a hunger to learn more. My personal highlight was having Mahela Jayawardene come and speak to the squad and explain to us the importance of staying with the basics and not overcomplicating a very simple game."
Christian Farrell (IV)
"The first thing I noticed when we arrived in Colombo was the heat and humidity; it was quite an oppressive force. After the brief walk with the luggage to the bus, we suspected that this would be a major issue for us to overcome when it was time to play cricket … and we were right!
It was the first time I had travelled to this part of the world, or any developing nation. I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect – all I had was snippets from movies, photos and the like. It was very overwhelming at first and completely different to anything I had ever seen, and there was often a sudden change from a residential area to a section of jungle, and then back to a series of shops.
The schools we played matches against were all incredibly enthusiastic and excited to host us, and the games were quite competitive as they were at a similar playing level to us. Playing at famous grounds such as Premadasa was incredible. Another thing that struck me was how kind and respectful everyone was, making us all feel like we were truly welcome here."