The not so secret life of an Academy cricketer by George Garrett and Robert Yates

Day 1 – Saturday 18th February

Finally, departure day was upon us and we were ready to get away from the cold and indoor training, and into the sun of Colombo, Sri Lanka. However some questionable choices of attire were on show, with one member of the side choosing to wear a cricket jumper from the word go.

First up was the flight to Dubai with the on flight entertainment providing some rest bite from (the youngest tourist) Dan Mousley’s barrage of endless questions. Eventually we arrived in Dubai with not much sleep which certainly wasn’t helped by a certain member of the side leaving his laptop case and charger on the plane; not mentioning any names!

Finally we arrived in Colombo and were greeted by our guide Artula who transferred us to our hotel for a well-needed rest ready for training the next morning.

Day 2 – Sunday 19th February

The lads were up early for a training session at The Free Trade Sports Complex which is about an hour and a half from the hotel and was to be our base for the next couple of days.

A quick chat amongst the group about the expectations and opportunities for the week was followed by a hardworking net and fielding session with familiar faces amongst the net bowlers who had done us proud this time last year.

The nets instantly highlighted what Sri Lankan conditions were about with balls turning around corners in lane three, putting the batsmen’s technique and method under the pump.

On the return journey the heavens opened in Colombo however this didn’t prevent half the group from a dip in the pool … this was however, until Mo Ahmed believed he’d stepped on a ‘frog’, causing everyone to disperse from the pool immediately.

Day 3 – Monday 20th February

After a 6am wake up call, we were on our way to our first game against Sri Lanka Customs Club U23’s, albeit slightly late due to the bustling roads of Colombo on a Monday morning. It was clear skies as we arrived and after a quick warm up we were informed that we’d be in the field.

Early wickets were key with the openers Khayam Khan and George Garrett sharing the spoils with two wickets apiece despite a few too many (full) four-balls. A few partnerships followed, yet regular wickets were a common theme with notable performances from spinner Dan Mousley (10-0-42-3), along with captain Sunny Singh (10-1-29-1) and Finlay McCreath (5-0-18-1), and the locals were restricted to 177, bowled out just inside 45 overs.

A special mention must go to Matt Davison who managed to beat his own record for the time spent preparing his body ready to bowl. After a local chicken curry for lunch, the openers (with burnt tongues) Rob Yates (32) and Shoaib Akhtar (30) made their way to the crease, providing a healthy opening stand of 70. However, as the ball began to turn, the wickets began to tumble and unfortunately we couldn’t get over the line falling 20 short. A lot of lessons learnt, yet Harry Johnson (41) undoubtedly demonstrated to all present how to bat against the turning ball.

Day 4 – Tuesday 21st February

Tuesday saw George Garrett in fine form, dishing out the chat on the coach. It began with a ‘lie in’ before a training session at Colombo Colts Cricket Club, captained of late by Sri Lankan regulars Angelo Mathews and Chaminda Vaas. Everyone was focused on improving on their performance yesterday and pushing themselves hard with fielding sessions followed by sprints to finish off. On the return journey we returned to the Commons Café which proved so popular last year, and once again the food didn’t disappoint unlike Dan Mousley’s chat. Following a recovery stretch session in the pool which ended with Harry Johnson smashing a few bottles on pool side, we ate dinner at the Cricket Cafe in the city centre which was full of cricket memorabilia with all meals having some cricket related name. This was a hugely enjoyable evening but still Mo Ahmed went home hungry.

Day 5 – Wednesday 22nd February

Drawing the curtains this morning and seeing blue skies above the lapping waves suggested the day was to be a good one, despite Khayam Khan running the tour party through one of his ‘sixfers’ for the twentieth time.

Training at the P.Sara Oval (home to Tamil Union Cricket Club and Messrs Wright and Chopra in recent times) a current test ground, provided the perfect facilities to expose ourselves to the sub-continent.

Nets were in full flow with a local coach offering some insight into how to play in the Sri Lankan conditions. We were put through our paces in the heat with fitness after the session, and a member of the side certainly left his mark on the side of the pitch after the session with breakfast making a repeat appearance; but serious efforts from all.

A welcome lunch at the Commons, was followed by another active stretch in the pool where a lot of burnt bodies were on show.

The local beach offered some fun with the locals challenging the Bears to a game of beach football; safe to say McCreath, Mousley, Singh and Yates delivered with a 5-3 victory.

A great day came to a close with one of our own Henry Brookes (in India with the England 19’s), texting the dinner table with news of his successful day on Day 2 of the second Youth Test (60 not out). YOU BEARS!