“Total commitment” on Sri Lanka sports tour
September 1, 2014
September 1, 2014
The School’s rugby and cricket tour of Sri Lanka, organised to mark the centenary of the introduction of rugby at QE, proved to be both rewarding and challenging for the teams as they encountered talented opposition in hot and humid conditions.
The tour party, comprising around 50 boys from Year 10 to Year 13, took on a range of opposition, including local sports academies, junior district sides and an MCC-backed charity youth team during the 11-day tour. The tour also included opportunities for sightseeing and sampling local culture.
“Conditions throughout the tour were unfamiliar and asked questions of our boys’ fitness and mental strength,” said PE teacher Jonathan Morgan. “The heat and humidity led to dehydration, but all the boys played their hearts out, performing with total commitment.
“The trip got off to a smooth start, with the boys arriving at Heathrow looking extremely smart in their tour shirts and ties,” said Mr Morgan, who organised the visit. “We were greeted in Colombo with traditional necklaces made of fresh flowers, before transferring to Kandy for our first fixtures.”
With little opportunity to acclimatise to the conditions, all three teams (a rugby XV and two cricket XIs) were in action on the first day. In close matches, both cricket teams were beaten, but the rugby team won their opening game 19-5.
Cricket captain Seb Fesczcur-Hatchett was named man of the match in the A game, scoring 31 runs and taking four wickets. Man of the match in the B fixture was Mathew Norman, who scored 31 opening the batting. Highlights of the rugby included: an excellent performance by Asvin Ponnampalam, who scored two tries; a brilliant try scored by Luke Dee, and the strong overall team performance in difficult conditions.
During their time in Kandy, the boys enjoyed sights including the food market, silk and gem factories, a traditional dancing and fire-walking show, and the Temple of the Sacred Tooth.
Both cricket teams had two more games in Kandy, played at the impressive Pallekele International Cricket Stadium. “I think the B team started the day slightly overawed by the occasion and took a while to get into their stride,” added Mr Morgan. In spite of some impressive batting and bowling the team lost by four wickets. “The A team were then involved in a real spectacle: in 40 overs of play, the two opposing teams scored 350 runs. Sadly our team fell just short of the opposition’s 178,” Mr Morgan added.
The rugby team came up against top Kandy independent school Trinity College – the number one-ranked side in Sri Lanka. Despite battling hard in tough conditions, the team lost 50-17.
“I have to say that all the boys on tour behaved impeccably and made it a very special and successful trip,” said Mr Morgan. “They were polite, patient and good-humoured throughout.”
The later part of the tour was based around Colombo, with the highlights including a visit to the Pinnawala elephant orphanage, where the boys enjoyed watching the elephants bathing and being fed.
The climate in Colombo proved, if anything, even hotter than Kandy. The cricket B team faced an uphill task in their first game, when the opposition posted a score of 274 off 35 overs. Mr Morgan reported that the boys tried their hardest with some good batting by Harry Webb and Mathew Norman, but lost by 110 runs.
The cricket A team again struggled in temperatures in the 30-plus degree heat; they batted first and posted a score of 124 all out in 34 overs. Notwithstanding some early wickets, they could not prevent the opposition from reaching the target, losing the game by seven wickets. The heat and the hard ground took their toll on the rugby team, who played well but were unable to score and lost a close game 6-0.
The cricketers received a boost with a special training session run by two former Sri Lankan cricket internationals. And all the tourists visited a local orphanage where they met the children and donated school supplies they had taken with them from the UK. The gifts included stationary, bags, paper, books, ties and a cash donation for the head teacher to put towards repairs to the school. “They were all extremely thankful and it was a very humbling experience for every boy involved and one that the boys and staff will not forget,” said Mr Morgan.
The final rugby match was against the Royal College Colombo, which is another team with the reputation of being one of the best school sides in the country. It took place at the college’s rugby stadium – another outstanding facility. The QE boys rose to the occasion and played with grit and commitment, going in at half-time with the score at 12-12. A late try and conversion gave QE the victory 19-12.
The A team secured their first victory of the tour in their penultimate game, a 20/20 match in which the hosts were contained to just 74 runs, which QE easily “knocked off”. The B team followed suit, albeit in a rain-shortened match of nine overs each. The hosts scored 82, which QE chased down with an over to spare.
On the final day of tour, the whole party visited the Foundation of Goodness, a charity based in Seenigama village, near Galle, which works to improve the lives of local people. One of the founders showed the tour party around the facility and also talked in detail about the effect the 2004 tsunami had on the charity and the local area. With sponsorship from the Marylebone Cricket Club, the charity developed the MCC Centre of Excellence, which is now at the heart of its work.
In the final cricket matches of the tour, the B team were bowled out for just 64 runs, which the opposition scored with overs to spare. The A team’s game was more competitive: QE batted first, scoring 130 from 20 overs. A hat trick from Niam Radia made the hosts work to reach the total, but they completed the task for the loss of seven wickets and with only one over in hand.
The tour was rounded off in style with an awards evening. Awards were given to:
“Special prizes were also awarded to Rajul Bhikha and Callum Murphy our 'loveable rogues' on tour,” said Mr Morgan. “These were two boys who bridged the gap between years, always showing a positive attitude and keeping the tour in good spirits throughout.”