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In 2011, Daisy and I were getting towards the end of a sojourn to India and Sri Lanka. The trip included much cricket, reported previously:
- The day I became a live cricket commentator in Jagdalpur – reported here on King Cricket;
- Several games of garden cricket in Bastar – reported elsewhere;
- A game of garden cricket near Galle – also reported here on King Cricket.
But I have, until now, kept quiet about the day I won The Ashes single-handedly in Galle.
It happened like this.
Daisy and I were very fortunate to be able to hire a villa for a few days within the Galle Fort itself. The two young men, Praseeth and Roshan, who were the villa’s housekeepers, were locals. I asked if they would take me up onto the Western Ramparts where the local youths famously play.
“Oh, we can do better than that”, they said. “We know all those guys – until recently we used to play with them still – they’ll certainly let us all play with them.”
And so they did.
I first needed to prove myself as a bowler before earning the right to bat. Fair enough – no special treatment for visiting dignitaries up there on the ramparts. But with my deceptively straight bowling l fairly soon earned my chance to bat.
Daisy chatted with a small watching posse who turned out to be from Brisbane. Daisy encouraged them to join in, especially the man who looked sort-of keen.
“It’ll sort-of be The Ashes,” said Daisy. After he’d watched me bat for some while, he said: “I suppose I should try and dislodge the Pom.”
Actually this Pom did surprisingly well on that untrustworthy surface, which tended to at least give you time to hoick through the line to the leg side, if such is your bag.
After I was finally dislodged, the Brisbanite did get a go with the bat. He played one decent shot, at which moment I sledged: “Are you Matthew Hayden’s evil twin (if that is possible)?”
He did not last long after that. Who could?
In short, The Ashes, played for the first and only time at a neutral Test venue, were won by me, single-handedly, that day. I don’t talk about it much; I’m that sort of modest chap.