Cricket may be a weekly activity for some of us; however, going to a foreign country, experiencing their culture and staying in 5 star hotels is a once in a lifetime opportunity. During the summer holidays, 32 students and four members of staff jetted off on a 12 day cricket tour of Sri Lanka. We stayed in three amazing hotels and played six games of cricket against local opponents.

After landing in Colombo, we were driven to Kandy where we arrived at our first hotel, the Grand Kandyan, after a gruelling 10 hour flight. Almost immediately we dived into the rooftop pool to settle down and relax after a tiresome day of travelling. Our second day was mainly about experiencing Sri Lankan culture. First, we visited the Temple of the Tooth Relic, a Buddhist temple which contained a huge golden statue of the Buddha. Then at the hotel we attended a Sri Lankan culture show which included lots of drumming and dancing. The most entertaining act was a fire breather. This was a perfect way to end the day.

Playing cricket in Sri Lanka was always going to be a challenge and it proved to be so. However it was a brilliant experience; playing in extremely hot conditions against local opposition. Each team had their ups and downs, with the Year 9 team winning two of their six games but a lot of the games were very tight. Ben Stallard got the highest score, 51, and Kiran Bhat got the most wickets with 7. The Year 10s won three of their six matches. Theo Weatherall got the highest score, 82, and Ollie Walter claimed 11 wickets.

I believe that the standout out game was the fifth one, because we got to play in one of the most iconic grounds in Sri Lanka, the Galle International Cricket Stadium. Only a week ago the South African Test Cricket Team were bowled out for 73 in a ground where no opposition team has won. This stadium was rebuilt after the 2004 tsunami so it was fitting that the Year 9s played the Foundation of Goodness Cricket Team: a charity team that was set up after the tsunami. The Year 9s narrowly lost after getting 85 with the bat. We believed that would never be enough to win the game however some great bowling left them 35-4. But a determined batting partnership won them the game. Year 10s also lost in an agonisingly close game. Alex Holloway hit a great 51 to set the team up for 102 all out. Their opponents, Devapathiraja, looked like chasing this easily as they were 95-5. However, Akshay Patel and Ollie Walter both claimed 2 wickets for no runs to put the pressure on. Unfortunately, they reached the target in the penultimate over. Despite the losses, this was a truly unique experience, to play in an international cricket stadium and it is something we will never forget.

This trip has been an amazing experience for everyone. Over the course of this tour, we experienced a whole new way of life and huge differences from our own culture. We’ve met new people, saw new sights and experienced new traditions that we will remember for a long time. The tour was a massive success: we all thoroughly enjoyed it. To make the tour so enjoyable there was a lot of preparation before the trip. We must thank all the teachers for organising this and Kiran Bhat’s dad for sponsoring our kit. Also a thank you to Edwin Doran Travel Group for assembling and preparing this trip. We are most grateful to Tony Opatha and his team, who were our guides throughout the tour. Tony explained his cricketing career as he has played for the Sri Lankan national team and he also gave us extensive details about Sri Lankan lifestyle. They made this once in a lifetime trip run smoothly and for that, we are very grateful.

Video: https://drive.google.com/a/challoners.org/file/d/1TYaLyj2LwB70NoIJkepZc1hsFBKizwDf/preview