Posts Tagged ‘Thomians’

Royals v Thomians, Saturday 10th March 2018, 10.30am

March 28, 2018

Colombo is less than a four-hour flight away from KL and so when I noticed a weekend T20 international between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh I thought it might be worth a visit. Jen and I arrived on the Friday night and on Saturday morning we had the task of collecting our tickets from the Sri Lankan cricketing headquarters at the Sinhalese Sports Club. The game wasn’t taking place there, it was at the newer R. Premesada stadium a few kilometres away, but I suppose it made sense to ensure that everyone arriving for that evening’s action already had their ticket in their hand.

The SSC wasn’t the easiest place to find and so we made use of a tuk-tuk. It goes without saying that the driver had no desire to take us straight there, but as we had plenty of time we agreed to his suggestion of stopping off at some famous buddhist temple.

It was an odd sort of temple, on one hand it had the usual golden statues, but it was also crammed with all sorts of bric-a-brac, old photos, ornaments and thirty year old cameras. There was even a radio cassette player from the eighties and a video recorder that you could probably carbon date to ten years later. It made me wonder whether I should convert our UK lockup into a place of worship.

The SSC was incredibly busy, far more so than you’d expect, even if a lot of people had left collecting their T20 tickets until the day of the game. The real reason for the crowds was that there was an annual Schools match, the 139th Battle of the Blues. Whilst you’d probably say Eton v Harrow at Lords would be the nearest English equivalent in terms of a sporting contest, the atmosphere was more like the annual Oxford v Cambridge rugby game at Twickenham.

Well, with something like that going on, the tuk-tuk driver’s proposal that he take us to some gems market around the corner was never going to have much appeal. We told him that we were fine for diamonds, picked up our tickets for the evening game and then set about trying to get inside the ground.

We were directed all around the perimeter but couldn’t find a ticket office. Eventually at Gate 1 we were told that there should be tickets available in around five minutes. A quarter of an hour later we were quietly told by a young lad handing out those cardboard signs with a 4 on them that the game was actually sold out and that the gatekeepers didn’t want to pass on the bad news.

We wandered back in the direction that we had come from and when I saw a bloke with a couple of tickets in his hand I asked him where I could buy some. “Here” he replied and offered me the two that he had. They were three-day tickets with a face value of 3,800 Sri Lankan Rupees, which is around seventeen quid. As this was day two of a three-day game he discounted them by a third and asked for 2,500. Result.

We made our way back to Gate 1 and after giving a thumbs up to the boundary card distributor we were into the ground. We passed through a section with food stalls and made our way upstairs to our seats in the pavilion grandstand. We were just in time to nab front row seats which, apart from a stanchion, gave us a decent view of the field.

Whilst the outside had been busy, the inside of the SSC was at another level. I read that there had been eighteen thousand attending the day before, including the Sri Lanka Prime Minister who had quite rightly prioritised an old boys day out over paying closer attention to the domestic crisis that had necessitated him announcing a State of Emergency just two days earlier. It looked as if there were at least as many spectators for the second day as the first.

The stands were sub-divided into numerous enclosures occupied by groups of old boys and current boys. There was a mix of live and recorded music blaring out with the drummers and trumpeters competing to drown each other out. It was obviously a very big social occasion with few people watching the cricket as they caught up with old classmates.

The Royals were three down in their first innings, responding to the St Thomas’ score of 166. For most of the morning we watched a decent partnership between two lads who will no doubt be reliving it over a beer at this event for the next fifty years. It was brought to an end when the big fast bowler took his fourth wicket of the innings and Royal College went in at lunch about seventy behind with six wickets remaining.

The lunch break was the signal for a lot of the spectators to wander around the outfield, catching up with old mates and documenting their attendance with selfies. We had stuff to do and with rain in the air we did a lap around the edge and then headed out, ears ringing. At the exit we handed over our tickets, wristbands and pass outs to the boundary card fella who had been helpful when we’d been ticketless. Hopefully he was able to put them to good use.