Mateship gangs up on enemy called dehydration

Well, here we go again. Another month, another tour, another Test, another bed. If that sounds as if I am a trifle weary about being back in the old routine, it is not intended. Now,
not being on another tour, that's when you suffer.

Well, here we go again. Another month, another tour, another Test, another bed. If that sounds as if I am a trifle weary about being back in the old routine, it is not intended. Now, not being on another tour, that's when you suffer.

But the six weeks since the great triumph in Pakistan have flown by much more quickly than our time there. England now have it all to do once more.

For most of this happy band, including me, it is a first visit to Sri Lanka. England have only played two Tests here before. This is our first tour.

First impressions are distinctly favourable. Ask me what I think of the pitches for fast bowlers just after the First Test and I shall probably know more. It is already being said, of course, as it was in Pakistan, that the pitches will be geared for spin, for therein lies Sri Lanka's strength.

But my initial thoughts, without having done much purposeful bowling in our first four days over here, is that the ball goes through the air a bit quicker than it did in Pakistan. Still, as in every new place where you bowl for the first time, there will be some adapting of length to do.

It may also mean, as it did a few weeks ago up the road from here, a different role for me to play. New-ball wickets will be important - they always are - but there will also be something of a holding role to play for the seamers.

Sri Lanka is a welcoming place. Being on the coast here in Colombo, there is the whiff of the Caribbean about it, and when we leave Colombo for the provinces, that feeling may well grow.

I think the time here will pass quickly. I know it has been reported back home that we are being looked after by an armed guard and heavy security is in place because of the potential threat from the Tamil Tiger freedom fighters on the island. But we have hardly noticed them so far. There is a definite feeling of greater freedom here, and when the matches start the hours and days will fly by.

Much has been made of the weather we can expect: hot sun and humidity. We have not actually experienced much of that yet, because it has been quite mild. There has been rain, one tremendous overnight thunderstorm, and apparently we can expect a few more of them.

From England's point of view, this is not desperately good news. Overnight rain tends to give way to sizzling daytime sun, and this creates a steamy, oppressive humidity. The players were urged to do some acclimatisation training before we came here. Jogging in the gym in tracksuit and muffler helped to work up a sweat. But the only real way to become accustomed to the conditions is to be out here experiencing them.

Dehydration, as always in this sort of climate, is the greatest enemy of the fast bowler. It is like a mantra, but the water you take on board as you go to bed (about two litres) and before the morning's exercise is absolutely crucial. It all takes a lot more out of you than at home.

The team have quickly rebonded after our winter break. There is, as you have probably gathered, a true rapport between this group. Mateship, the Australians call it. Winning helps, as ever, but we do get on. There is plenty of the banter which is so important to professional sportsmen.

My Somerset team-mate Marcus Trescothick, Banger to us, made an early mark on proceedings. We were having our heartbeats monitored and on top of the machine, our estimable young opener noticed the legend TIM. "Is it possible to have any name on the machine?" he inquired of our fitness coach, Nigel Stockill. "It stands for 'Time' actually," said Stockill.

The opening match of the tour, a two-day affair, begins tomorrow, with a four-day match on Thursday. The standard of the opposition may not be so significant as getting used to playing cricket for long, sweat-filled sessions.

This will be, in every sense, a hard couple of months. Sri Lanka may have had a torrid time of it in South Africa but they are a very different proposition on their own turf. They will be no pushovers, and we know it, but England are no pushovers either, not any more, and they will know that.

This week has been taken up by getting over the jet-lag. The time difference is six hours, and it was in the small hours when we arrived here. No matter where you go as a cricketer it still takes a few days to settle down into a routine of sleep.

And the business about the bed is true everywhere. There is no bed in any hotel anywhere in the world like the bed at home. It's not the length. It's the mattresses. They're always softer, your back always seems to twinge in the morning. That's touring. Eight weeks, three Tests and three one-dayers to go. It will fly by.

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before