A stormy welcome from Sri Lanka, as I write a tropical storm is blowing chaos around the wide and varied streets of Colombo! After a bumpy ride to Doha and then on to Colombo, it was fantastic to team up with the guys who had arrived five days before to take part in the Global Cricket Academy. All participants, Freddie Klokker, Michael Pedersen, Rizwan Mahmood and Bobby Chawla were equally glad to see the remaining squad members at the Panarama Hotel as we arrived after nine weary hours of travel. We were also joined later that night by an equally weary Martin Pedersen and Assistant Coach Bret Mulder from Perth, but we were now together and ready for the many challenges ahead.
Day 1, Practice Thurstan Cricket Ground, Colombo Zoo
Practice facilities at the Thurstan club proved to be adequate for the type of practice required. The grass net surfaces were slow, but varied in bounce and also big turners. The boys worked really hard throughout the two hour session in 24 degree heat and 95 % humidity. The 'fantastic four' of course looked at home and were reveling in the conditions; the new boys however were still very much on the learning curve of Asian conditions. After a great all-round session, we decided to have a group visit to the Zoo in Colombo, even though we were charged three times the entrance fee for being foreign. Highlight of the visit had to be the dancing elephants or was it the wide selection of big cats?
Day 2, Practice Match at Moors Cricket Club vs Colombo Invitation XI
So after a two hour practice session we headed out into the suburbs of Colombo to the fantastic facilities at Moors Cricket Club. We faced some pretty strong opposition, five players being on Cricket Sri Lanka central contracts. We managed to talk the opposition into letting us bat first in perfect conditions (30 degrees and blue skies!).
Freddie and Troels got us off to a steady start, but the Herning Hornet was removed by a rising delivery. Michael and Freddie then put on a useful 55 run partnership before the former was adjudged lbw for 20. Rizwan (46) and Freddie added a further 26 runs, the latter completing his half century. Further runs were added by the big hitting Naveed Mughal (51) and Martin Pedersen (36) and the Vikings eventually finished their innings on a respectable 228 for 8. For the home side Tharindu Attanayke was the pick of the wicket taking bowlers, taking 3 for 19 in his allotted overs, however, Manokara is a very promising fast bowler from Colombo and is a name to watch out for in the future with his 140 km deliveries.
In reply the Invitation XI lost a couple of early wickets, but 'Champions league ' professional Sahan Witerathne blasted a very stylish 88 runs, and he was well supported by Salika Karunanayake(81) as the home side closed in on the Vikings total. However, a fantastic spell of bowling from AB's Bashir Shah (3 for 32) and Ishøj's Basit Raja , and at the death Glostrup's Aftab Ahmed 3 for 21 very nearly saw the visitors home as the Sri Lankans ended on 229 for 9. National Assistant Coach Bret Mulder was delighted with the performance' the boys were fantastic today, we have spent the last five months practicing indoors, and to put in a performance like that after two hours practice was amazing, however we must really continue to work hard and build on the individual performances and continue to gel together as a team.