5 days in the life of ... graham gooch
The England A cricket team manager meets Prince Charles in troubled Sri Lanka
Sunday 08 February 1998
We've been made very welcome, even if the crowds at the matches haven't been all that big - about on a par with a typical county match in England. Obviously the terrorism here has been a worry. The players are very much on edge, and after the bombing in Kandy a couple of weeks ago - where we were supposed to be going later in the tour - I put it to the Sri Lankan Cricket Board that perhaps we could change the itinerary. We wanted to avoid Kandy and Colombo. The board has been very amenable, and we've managed to change the venues for matches, but it's still meant cutting short the tour. As it is, we always have a couple of policemen for protection. It's not that I think we're going to be targets, it's just that you never know if you might get caught up in something.
TUESDAY: The match ended in a rather uneventful draw. Play has to end here by 5.30, because it gets dark within an hour, and we were straight off on another long coach journey to Galle, which is on the south coast. It's not so much the distance as the traffic that's the problem, even with the police motorcycle escort that we have with us. I wouldn't recommend driving here: I find I'm best off with my head down in a book and not knowing what's going on. It seems to be a case of if you see a gap, go for it. We had to go through Colombo and stopped to collect 14 takeaway pizzas. We also dropped off Mark Ealham, so he could collect his wife, who's flown out from England. We got to Galle at about 10 o'clock.
WEDNESDAY: Everyone had a day off today. Most of the lads spent it by the pool. I still try to keep fit, so I've been running, and today played some tennis with Dean Conway, our physio. One or two of the players like to pick up a racket, too - Dougie Brown of Warwickshire and Steve James of Glamorgan. I've done a bit of bowling in the nets but no batting at all. I've completely retired as far as that's concerned. The heat is a problem. This is the hottest country to play cricket in, I reckon. The temperature's between 32 and 37 degrees most days, and it's worse than Australia because of the 80 per cent humidity.
THURSDAY: As Prince Charles was here for Sri Lanka's independence celebrations I was asked by the British High Commission to accompany him when he made a presentation to the Sri Lankan Schools Cricket Association. So while the players practised I was collected by a High Commission car and driven to Colombo. I chatted with the Prince for a few minutes. The Glamorgan boys in the party were keen to send him their best wishes. The Prince is the patron of Glamorgan, and as they won the county championship last year he threw a party for the team at Highgrove. The press managed to persuade the Prince to pick up a bat. He didn't do too badly - he could easily have hit the ball straight at the photographers but managed to keep it away from them. Then it was back to Galle. Mrs Ealham has brought out the papers from England, so we've caught up a bit, though most of the hotels have CNN or BBC World.
FRIDAY: Day one of our next match against Sri Lanka. We did well. They were all out for 171 and we finished on 47 for one. I think there's a good chance we'll get a result in this game.
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