Flight and Day 1: After a slight mishap regarding Ojas, a hangover and being on the wrong platform the clubman assemble at Birmingham airport. The clubman scraped through check in coming just under the weight allowance for the group with the keepers almost having to pay ridiculous fees for their extra kit causing them to be 5g over the weight limit. Ridge, meanwhile, was dying to get to spoons to get a pre flight pint. After a few Ojas photoshoots (Jede being the designated photographer on this occasion) the clubman safely boarded the plane and were bound for Doha. This was a longish flight (and consisted of a 100% completion rate of the 1st tour challenge) and the clubman arrive at Doha in the early hours of the morning. Since we had a 2 hour turnover (and it was mid to late afternoon back home) many clubman quickly found some food before leaving Doha for Columbo.
A flight that involved a lot of sleeping unsurprisingly had few highlights, except that when we arrived Club President Joe Randall started clapping bringing shame on the club outside its natural habitat. Once visas were checked (and bought at the border for some) the bags were collected and the group were ready to meet their tour guide. Unbeknownst to all of the clubman, except maybe Rav, we would meet possible the greatest man to ever grace this Earth: Travis. Straight away we were met with smiles, flower necklaces (I don’t know what they are called sorry not sorry) and blistering heat as we headed to our bus for a quick tour of Columbo. After this we checked in at the Ozo hotel before training at a nearby ground. This involved a few bang av drills which racked up some early fines for certain clubman, Shiv looking the favourite to rack up the most fines already. This brought an end to the 1st day in Sri Lanka as we went to sleep early.
Day 2, match against Colombo University:
The clubman woke up to a beautiful coastal view with a side of buffet before heading to the P Sara Oval for their 1st match, where the ‘Tour Veterans’ took on Columbo University. On the way Travis thought to tell us something that would be a common theme for the whole tour: ‘The Team is Strong’ Aka after seeing us ‘train’ in the nets the day before he thought it would be polite to tell us that we were about to play Sri Lanka’s best cricketing university. Unsurprisingly the hosts batted 1st and started strong by hitting Randall for four over the covers off of his 1st ball, this would continue throughout the innings with every bowler that came on. Some notable moments coming from Krish as he was hit for a few massive sixes before taking 2 wickets. The batting attack was unrelenting as the Sri Lankan batsmen dispatched the slower pace of Owen, Ridge, Rav, SJ and Krish for many runs whilst Olly Warwick proved to be more economical than most. Columbo finished on 349-6 off of 40 overs. After the whole touring group enjoyed the food provided for tea UWMCC opened up with Rory and Amogh. After a promising start Rory was dismissed LBW for 15 (ish) as Sash comes into bat. After Amogh chipped one straight to a fielder, Sash took full advantage of his first ball grace when he is called back by the oppo captain after claiming to hit a ball when given out LBW. After hitting a few quick boundaries Sash departs for a second time leaving Randall and Krish at the crease. Randall looked classy before being dismissed, Krish managed to get to 50 before also getting out as the UWMCC tail puts on some much needed (for our egos more than anything) runs. Olly started to take the bowling apart before skying one, Owen hit a lovely sweep straight to a fielder to get caught. Meanwhile at the other end Ridge and SJ got their 1st tour runs with a lovely 10th wicket partnership after Rav and Jede get ducks. UWMCC finish with 199-9. The clubman depart for their hotel after a chat with the oppo before going to the Cricket Cafe for a meal. At this time many tourists discovered Uber tuc-tuc and used this to full effect to get to the cafe for 30p each, once there the clubman enjoyed the food (which involved many cricket based puns) and headed back to the hotel looking forward to their next fixture:
Day 3, match against JAYAWARDENAPURA UNIVERSITY:
After another early start the clubman arrived at the ground for the ‘Tour Virgins’ to play their 1st ever game on tour, but not before more encouragement from Travis as he proclaimed that today ‘The Team is Strong’. The oppo batted 1st as all of the bowlers got pumped all over the ground. Sohil and KP looked tidy for a few overs before all hell broke loose and suddenly the number 3 bat got a ton. The spinners were not helped by some shoddy fielding: Fraser decided to help a ball on the way for 6 instead of catching it and Collins decided to only catch balls when it was a free hit. Nevertheless some vital wickets from Jinesh, Ojas and Shiv provided some joy for the fielding side however they were faced with a huge task of chasing 389 off of 45 overs. This would mean that UWMCC would have to go at 9 runs an over for victory, luckily they opened up with Birdy and Fraser and after 10 overs they were 30-0 with Fraser sitting on a very handy 7. Unfortunately he was bounced (without a polite warning by the bowler) and he was out caught and bowled. Next in came Ben Harrison, who made a pretty 12 before also getting out. Then Sharky looked good for a similar score before also getting out. Then disaster struck as Birdy was given out in the 40s from a rough decision. After some resistance from KP and Sohil the tail started to collapse as Collins and Ojas both got goldens. Whilst this was happening the clubman that played the day before were playing hit and run when SJ threw Sash’s floppy in the sewer before the tour virgins fell to a 250 run loss. The day ended with Fraser, Shiv and Krish all getting max fines and leading the race to lose fines as the clubman got some rest before a day of travel to Kandy.
Day 4, travel to Kandy:
After setting off from the OZO hotel the boys had their 1st pit stop at an unassuming restaurant which, as Amogh found out very quickly, had some strictly off limit areas. Whilst most of the group went to the toilets or browsed the gift shop Amogh decided to invade a holy man’s personal space whilst he was praying in a small room. He was subsequently told to piss off as the rest of the tourists pilled on the bus, eager to get to their next stop; an elephant sanctuary. What preceded this can only be described as a true artist schooling the fresh on how to perform at the front of the bus as Travis sings country roads to a small viewing of his most loyal fans. Once a few of the tourists ‘performed’ a few more songs we arrived at the sanctuary and quickly got to see the real Sri Lanka after we were bombarded by ray bons salesmen. The elephant sanctuary seemed amazing at first with Sash even managing to reconnect with his long lost family, however after a short while the welfare of the elephants was questioned as it was clear that they were, for some reason, well trained and obeyed their rangers. Nonetheless it was a worthwhile stop and the group soon set off again. Next they stopped at a spice and herbal medicine garden which turned out to be one huge sales pitch. Not only this, but he would isolate a single clubman when he had a certain ailment and suggested that they needed this herbal remedy, with all of his directions of use being roughly the same ‘apply for 2-6 weeks, and then continue lifestyle’.
So taking his advice, we decided to continue lifestyle and quickly left, however not before various clubmen were offered a free massage, hair removal cream and Sri Lanka’s very own herbal dilly dilly. The groups final stop was a wood carving shop which posed as the perfect place for the tourists to grab presents for mothers day and get something for their female companions. Unfortunately UWMCC’s very own Keiron Patel forgot he had such a companion and got nothing, claiming that he would find something better at the end of the tour. After this we arrived at our hotel that boasted stunning views, a pool and more buffets. After settling in to the hotel and eating we decided to organise a tour circle, Jinesh providing the negotiation skills to get cheap beers and the drinking was underway, only now we had everyone’s favourite Travis! A few games that included back to wack, 20+1 and 30+1 and the circle was over. After the circle more tour shenanigans concluded a long day and the clubmen fell asleep, dreaming of a potential 1st tour result.
Day 5, match against PEREDENIYA UNIVERSITY :
Yet another early start and the group were off for a quick trip to the temple of the tooth in appropriate leg-wear, well everyone apart from Sohil who had ripped jeans on and had to change into his cricket whites to get into the temple. After they had visited the temple the Anti-Darb XI were to play their T20 match. After arriving at a very picturesque ground UWMCC, as if the odds weren’t already stacked against them, were greeted by both a batting and bowling XI who they would be playing against today. We bowled 1st and got to a good start with Sohil bagging a wicket in the 1st over of the match when Jinesh caught one in the deep, after this there wasn’t a lot to cheer about as the rest of the bowlers (except Olly who had quite a few batsmen play and miss) get worked around the ground nicely as two batsmen brought up their 50’s. Some notable fielding mishaps going to Shiv, for flicking the ball over the boundary, and Collins, for missing the stumps from 0.1 inches away for an easy run out. The oppo finished on 190 off of their 20 and UWMCC had to bat like animals to get this total. We started well with Krish and Dec getting off to a great start before Krish was sent back to the pavilion, in came Olly who smashed it about while Dec did his best Wario impression whilst running between the wickets. They both got out after being on 40 odd and in came Ben Harrison and Sharky who both got a quick 10 odd before also getting out. Now it was Sohil’s turn to go boomtown, and after a few explosive shots we needed 60 from 3 overs. Unfortunately this did not happen, even with Sohil and Birdy’s much needed partnership, and UWMCC needed 30 from 4 balls with 4 wickets left. Jinesh, who was batting at 11, decided not to pad up. As you can guess the oppo bowler got a hattrick and Jinesh was almost timed out before being at the non-striker’s end for the last ball. After one of the oppo players tried to get into Olly Warwick’s pants by calling him the perfect batsmen, we headed back to the hotel. A few showers were taken and we were quickly off again to watch the Kandy Cultural Show which had some very mixed dancing performances. A few clubman even noted how attractive one of the female dancers looked before Rav had the pleasure of letting them know that she was indeed 15 years old. Trust Rav to know her age. This concluded another day and the clubmen decided to get an early night.
Day 6, match against WICKRAMABAHU COLLEGE:
The boys woke up early and headed to their cricket venue for today which was, yet again, a very picturesque ground with a lovely mountainous backdrop. Today the Anti-gun XI would outdo themselves and they started the match by bowling. After a great opening spell from Sharky and his 40mph bumpers we had taken a few early wickets, then the oppo gained momentum and started carting everything. On the odd occasion that they gave as a chance at a catch we decided it would be polite not to catch the ball as Ridge was robbed of a few more sweet sweet tour scalps. Ben and Jede proved to be the only ones with usable hands as they caught a few between them, this and Rav’s attempt to yeet a ball at the batsman whilst bowling (and quickly apologising like a good competitive captain does) left the batsmen quaking in their Sri Lankan boots. Some tidy bowling from Owen, SJ, Collins and Shiv got the remainder of the wickets as the oppo were bowled out for 320. Opening up was Rory and Fraser and, after electing to do the tour challenge of practicing the pull, reverse sweep and ramp out in the middle in unison, we got off to a tremendous start as Fraser got fired 1st ball of the innings. In came Ben Harrison who got his third score of 12 before getting out leaving Jede and Rory at the crease. Luckily, for the opposition, the heavens started to open and the match soon had to be abandoned. In the meantime SJ lost odds to do a lap in the rain and the group went back to the hotel with an unbeaten Anti-gun XI. Since the clubmen had a lot of time on their hands they decided to play rugby in the hotel pool, such was the success of the game that 3 French blokes joined us. One of which was an absolute monster of a man, even rivalling Travis with his shear strength. Unfortunately, being this large, he started lifting up anyone who had the ball (whichever team they were on) and carried them to the edge of the pool which proved a very effective way to score a try. After this the clubmen went to bed, and by bed I mean the much needed toilets in their rooms as their stomachs were feeling a little worse for wear a week into eating the Sri Lankan cuisine.
Day 7, trip to Koggala:
The boys were up a slightly more friendly hour as they left the hotel and headed to a Sri Lankan tea factory. After a quick tour, and enough tea to kill an elephant being bought, the event that everyone was waiting for was about to start on the bus: Fresh Factor. This year the much anticipated spectacle was hosted by Jack ‘Dermot O’Leary’ Ridge and the featured everyone’s favorite judges: Sash Cowel, Louie McCausland, Saurav Sherzinger and Sharron Randall. This year the tour fresh would be the acts and starting us off Jinesh sang a lovely rendition of ‘Don’t worry, be happy’, followed by Rory singing some welsh blokes song (shock); next shiv did his best impression of an emo singing live forever, then Ben Harrison sang Bruno Mars beautifully and for some reason Sash took this as a personal insult to everything he stands for and went full Cowel with his criticism, KP tried his luck with some Jason Mraz singing ‘I’m Yours’, basically what half of the copper rooms would say to KP if he was single. Next up was Ojas who forgot the words to ‘Punjabu MC’, Fraser than sang ‘500 miles’ in fluent scottish, Dec ‘Wario’ Wardell smashed ‘Hips don’t lie’ and Birdy showed his emotional side as he hit all the hard notes of ‘Tiny Dancer’. Then Sohil tried to win a losing battle by rapping ‘pass out’, did he not hear about Amogh being Amogh and doing an Amogh in Fresh factor 2018 (Amogh edition)? Sharky decided he would rick-roll everyone before SJ gave us everything by staring into Travis’ eyes and singing some pitbull. A quick pit stop and the results were decided: Birdy 3rd place, Dec 2nd and SJ winning and to celebrate he serenaded Travis for a second time in 30 minutes. Luckily for SJ harassment laws are slightly more relaxed in Sri Lanka. After this a number of songs were butchered, however Ojas did I lovely performance of Aerosmith which, as many clubman noted, would have done him a lot better in Fresh factor. We arrived at the Koggala beach hotel shortly after and were greeted by some very friendly members of staff who insisted Rav light a very large candle upon entry (could this be a sign that our cricket success was about to turn around?). With their newfound confidence an impromptu beach circle was started and after a fresh run to the beach and back in 1 minute because we don’t have enough beer challenge, ICICN and various other games the group retired to bed.
Day 8, coaching at the Foundation of Goodness:
At the crack of dawn the boys were yet again up and on the bus. In the morning we travelled to a river where we were taken on a boat safari. This consisted of not an awful lot as the highlight was Dec using his revision notes as a substitute for toilet paper on the cinnamon island. Next we went to a turtle hatchery where we could see the baby turtles when they were days old. Although this was interesting the welfare of some of the older turtles, who were recovering in rather small enclosures, was called into question. This became a very brief visit and we were off to the Foundation of Goodness to coach the children who were affected by the Hurricane in 2013. Apart from being absolutely gun (at very young ages) these children were full of energy and a great bunch of kids to coach, even though one of them told Olly Warwick he wasn’t hitting the ball hard enough. That night the boys were booked at the Happy Banana restaurant (courtesy of Travis) which started well with drinks coming out in good time. Unfortunately, this changed when the food came: apart from being underwhelming, on a few occasions people got the polar opposite of what they ordered: Amogh, who does not eat beef, was told by the waiter (when Amogh complained he had the wrong food) that he did actually order beef. The boys decided to cut their losses and got a good night’s sleep before another thrilling day in Sri Lanka.
Day 9, game against the Foundation of Goodness:
The Gun XI would face the finest team at the Foundation of Goodness and Sash was captaining. He won the toss and batted 1st on a very small pitch. After most of our batsmen got around 10 runs and then got out (many of whom to the Sri Lankan Shayne Warne) our rear guard of Sohil, Ojas and Jinesh provided some resistance before UWMCC were bowled out for 157. With spirits almost broken, we decided to try and wrestle the balance of the game back into our control with a few quick wickets from Sohil and KP (even Sash managed some acrobatics in the field). The game was in the balance until the Sri Lankan Shayne warne came in and started smashing it. He eased his side home for a 5 wicket win and UWMCC were once again on the losing side. The presentation at the end provided a few gold moments, however, as one of the umpires called us ‘non-cricketers’ and the other said Sash ‘did well for a big boy’. We also managed to get our hands on some Foundation of Goodness stash and were humbled slightly when most clubmen had to go 2 sizes up to get a shirt that fits. That evening we decided to order some pizza from the hotel, the first few pizzas (of about 20) took 2 hours to come and from a closer inspection many a clubman decided that these pizzas were microwaved for mere minutes. This caused all the clubmen that had not received food to ask for their orders to be cancelled which was met with pure disdain from the ‘chef’. Fortunately Jinesh spoke to as many people who worked at the hotel as he could and refunds were provided. After this we surrendered ourselves to another buffet before celebrating Dec’s 22nd Birthday! After about 12 bullfrogs (5 shots plus energy drink) were demolished a few too many clubmen ended up in Ridge, Fraser and Owen’s room. In this room Ben Harrison was gas masked, Dec was accidentally stabbed in the mouth with a fork and Owen was eating cake off the walls with pants on his head. This ended yet another wonderful day on tour.
Day 10, Winning tour!
Today the clubmen woke up early to get on their bus back to the capital to play against Warwick Alumni. With many sleeping on the bus, the trip was uneventful and the boys found themselves back in Columbo. The Warwick alumni batted 1st and started less than well as KP removed a few off stumps early on, after Amogh started holding down and end we realised we had a chance and started to hope. All hope was lost when Sash came on to bowl and his first 2 balls got deposited. Luckily our strong start bailed us out as the Alumni scored 130 of 20 overs. Big Bash Abbasi and Ojas opened up with the former getting a 23 ball half century and retiring. Then Fraser came in and out in one ball sealing his fate for the next day. Ojas then completed his half century and UWMCC achieved the unthinkable, they had won a match on tour! After the game we had our end of tour presentation with Tour sec of the year (Rav) giving a speech and announcing the awards: Fraser got fresher of tour (out of pity), Ojas got best tourist, Olly got best batsmen, KP got best bowler and Krish got MVP. After Travis was given a tie we said goodbye for the night as we headed to our hotel room to freshen up before a ‘quiet’ meal with the Alumni, but as many UWMCC fresh find out as they visit the Millenium balti in week 3 of term 1: There is no such thing as a quiet meal. Before this however, fines would be concluded. The top 3 most fined clubman were as follows: Shiv was 3rd with 31 fines, after being 3 fines clear of everyone with 2 game days left this performance is comparable to Leicester’s relegation miracle of 2014/15 and can only mean one thing; he will win fines in 2020. Next was a dead heat for most fined with Krish and Fraser both getting 32 fines, some notable fines were Fraser getting almost all of his fines for his woeful batting performances and Krish trying to sabotage himself in the last fines session by complaining about fines, subsequently getting another fine and being in joint 1st for fines. You could not write this. The only fair way to decide fines? Rock-Paper-Scissors: Fraser lost. Punishment? Wearing whites on the flight home, which is probably fair as he didn’t wear his whites very often having gotten two golden ducks in the games he played. With this decided the group headed out to a restaurant to meet their predecessors and were treated with about 40 litres of top quality spirits between the 35-40 people eating. This resulted in the usual: Old boys admitting to sleeping with their cousins, very average karaoke and lots of chunder. One of the clubman that found themselves involuntarily making room in their stomach was Jede who was later spotted hanging out of a tuc-tuc projectile vomiting towards onlooking clubman. This concluded our last night in Sri Lanka.
Day 11/12, last day/flight home:
On this day there were no early alarms for the oh so tired clubman and they headed into the centre of Columbo for the last time to do some shopping. After many last minute presents being bought the boys went to eat with plenty of time before their flight. They slowly ate their food as Amogh started to get anxious: he was getting an earlier flight to a different location. His flight was in 90 minutes. He decided he would stay with the group for as long as possible and after a very nervous bus journey he ran to the check in desk and somehow managed to catch his flight with minutes to spare. Fortunately for the other clubman they had loads of time to kill as they arrived 2 hours prior to their flight like reasonable human beings. Unfortunately for Fraser this meant there was plenty of time for the many people at Colombo airport to gawk at him in his whites, luckily (being a supermodel) he was used to this. As UWMCC said their farewells to the legendary Travis, they embarked on their first flight to Doha. The flight was uneventful until they landed and got their much anticipated exam timetables. This arrival was met with pure hatred from the group as many a clubman had clashes with circle, Dec had an exam when he was on holiday and Fraser had an exam after the term was due to finish (#shameonyouwarwick). Luckily another email was soon sent out saying that this timetable was provisional and could easily change. With this good news the clubman flew from Doha to Birmingham where bags were collected without an issue. This concluded UWMCC’s International Tour 2019 to Sri Lanka, and what a wonderful tour it was.
Special thanks to Saurav for organising an amazing tour and to all the clubman who went for making it even better!