First Day at the Test

Trip Start Nov 16, 2007
Trip End Dec 15, 2007

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Saturday, December 1, 2007

Arrival at the Asigiriya Stadium, shoe-horned into a small hollow beneath towering hills, was a special moment.  As a life-long cricket fan, I'd always aspired to see 'England Away', and it felt quite surreal to finally realise that particular dream.  The weather was once again perfect, as we joined the expectant (and surprisingly long) queue of almost exclusively England fans.
We took our seats in the designated 'Barmy Army' enclosure.  Despite the image sometimes given, the Army are quite a blend of people from all walks of life, with some families, couples of all ages, well-spoken privately educated types, and stereotypical 'salt-of-the-earth' football fans all mixing happily together.
Despite losing the toss, England subsequently tore into the Sri Lankan batsmen, reducing them to 86-5 at lunch, and 188 all out midway through the final (third) session.  By close of play, England had moved serenely onto 49-1 to complete a nailed-on perfect day.
The clatter of Sri Lankan wickets left the Army in "fine" voice, with frequent renditions of "Jerusalem", "We Are The Army", and "Jimmy's Song" - initiated by a St George clad Jimmy Saville look-a-like who attends every tour and acts as an unofficial Army mascot.  Quite a character!  The Army have songs for most of the players, some genuinely witty, and there's plenty of playful banter flying around.  As the outstanding player of the day, (Army favourite) Matthew Hoggard had the most attention.
[to the tune of The Jungle Book Song]
Now Hoggy's the King of the swingers
An England VIP
He has a bowl, we have a song
The Aussies out by tea            
Oohh Oohh Oohh
I wanna bowl like you-ou-ou
Don't wanna bat like you
Just bowl like you do-oo-oo
Oh yeah it's true-ue-ue
I wanna bowl like you-ou-ou
Don't wanna bat like you
Just bowl like you-ou-ou
After making his only mistake of an exceptional day - letting a straightforward pickup on the boundary through his legs for four runs - the line "Don't wanna bat like you" was changed to "Don't wanna field like you" bringing a broad (and slightly embarrassed) smile to Hoggy's face.
Just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, we headed into the city with the masses, where I ate a sumptuous steak, drank copious beer (today was Simon's birthday, and it had been Tommy's the previous day!), sung victorious songs, and watched three Premiership football matches back-to-back.  Sweet!
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