Over Easter, 21 members of the UWMCC travelled to the subcontinent for our annual pre-season cricket tour. Our 12 night stay in Sri Lanka consisted of 6 cricket matches against university, club and academy sides in Colombo, Kandy and Hikaduwwa. We also took part in a wide variety of sightseeing activities, including visiting Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, the Temple of the Tooth and enjoying a boat safari and a questionable fish pedicure on the Madhu River.
An early tour highlight was the touring party’s first warm-up T20 game against the Sri Lankan UWMCC alumni. After hearing about their past experiences of circle and post-POP adventures in various Leamington fast-food establishments, we were subject to some clean striking by one particular old boy, scoring a blistering 91 off 36 balls. To the relief of our worn-out bowling attack, he was later found out to be an ex-international cricketer, much to the amusement of the non-playing members for the day. In response to the old boys 187, UWMCC made a respectable 165 with a notable 50 from Ryan Chase, in his first outdoor game for the club. We then headed to the cricketers café in Colombo, a famous restaurant boasting a selection of international cuisine named after cricketing legends, where many international cricketers have chosen to dine over the years. The tourists were quickly notified by the old boys that the upcoming fixtures were against the most prolific opposition in the country, many of which had an array of Sri Lanka U19 players in their ranks. Unfortunately, the wise words of the old boys rained true. Despite many strong performances throughout the tour, and one narrow last over loss against Peradeniya University, UWMCC were unable to secure a win in our first five games against tricky spin in unfamiliar conditions.
Amidst the early-starts and sweltering heat, we were able to experience the varied nightlife and culture that Sri Lanka had to offer. From beach bars to sky lounges, clubmen were eager to take advantage of the local lion lager and act classy at Colombo’s finest rooftop bar, which displayed an amazing view of the skyline and beachfront. Moreover, Kandy allowed the tourists to access their religious side, but didn’t stop a few from adding a new dimension to their Instagram accounts with a token selfie with a golden Buddha or two. Hikaduwwa’s beaches lived up to expectation, giving the touring party no choice but to have its very first beach circle. Hopefully it will be the first of many in future tours…
The penultimate day of tour was undoubtedly one of the best. The touring party were taken on a boat safari of the Madhu River with a memorable experience at a local fish spa. We anticipated lots of tiny fish nibbling at our heels. We actually should have brought some harpoons such was the size of these fish. They were absolute monsters who were intent on biting off our toes… whether this was therapy or an Austin Powers Powers-esque torture technique is debatable. The touring party continued to the Foundation of Goodness Centre of Excellence, a place where under-privileged children in the local village of Seenigama would attend coaching classes in a variety of sports. It was inspiring to see the children, who have so little in their day to day life, being so kind and willing to learn and is an experience that will stay with us for a long time.
The final day consisted of our sixth and final game at the iconic Galle International Stadium. After bowling first and being set a target of 214 in 40 overs, the lowest target we had been set all tour, the elusive tour win was very much in sight. After a strong opening stand and 1st wicket partnership, we found ourselves 134-2 off 20 overs, with a great knock by Louie Millman scoring 65 off 58 balls. After a tumble of wickets and a few lower-order batsmen steering us towards victory, a heroic 4 scored off the last ball by James Harris meant that we had tied our final game, signifying that we were the first touring party not to lose every game for 14 years. Despite not being the fairytale ending the tourists were hoping for, this was a great way to end the cricketing side of tour and gives the club a good base to begin our quest for promotions in the upcoming BUCS season.
Finally, I would like to extend the club’s thanks to Automotive Property Consultancy for sponsoring us for our tour to Sri Lanka. APC is a specialist property services centre of excellence dedicated to the car dealership market providing a total pro-active property service throughout the UK for occupiers, investors, car manufacturers, and developers. Their sponsorship was used to subsidise our tour and provide a sizeable donation to the Foundation of Goodness.