England’s Winter of discontent / Building a future for cricket in Rwanda!

30 03 2012

Building a future for cricket in Rwanda:

‘It is always heartening to hear of cricket spreading its roots to unfamiliar territory, and bringing so much new pleasure to players and spectators. Given Rwanda’s troubled past, I am sure cricket can play a strong role in bringing the people of Rwanda together.’

Jonathan Agnew (former England Test cricketer & BBC cricket correspondent)  

I’ve been making the most of BST. The clocks sprang forward last weekend and although it may only be March, it’s been a case of making hay while the sun shines. Not literally of course – more a matter of mowing lawns and hacking back shrubs. Oh yes, and in between sneezing and dosing myself with Piriton, I’ve also been carrying out a ladybird census (through streaming eyes of course) – we seem to be inundated with them this year!

Anyway, the English cricket season starts in earnest next week so it will almost certainly be back to more normal seasonal weather, with hail, sleet or snow stopping play up and down the country.

Meanwhile the England cricket team’s winter of discontent continues. Having been out played by Pakistan in their UAE ‘home’, losing all three Tests, the world’s ‘top team’ found themselves spinning to a fourth consecutive defeat – this time against Sri-Lanka in Galle.      

I’m not quite sure how two Tests constitutes a ‘series’, but the best England can do now is win in Colombo, next week, to share the spoils.  

The Galle cricket ground is one of the most picturesque in world Test cricket, overlooked by the old Dutch Fort and fringed by the twinkling Indian Ocean.   

Back in August 2003 I stood on the fort ramparts, admiring the view. There was a local game of some description in progress, but unfortunately not a Test match. Sixteen months later, I watched TV news footage of a ground  devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Three years on, following renovation, the stadium re-opened and in 2010 it provided the setting for, a fairy tale ending to the Test career of, arguably, Sri-Lanka’s greatest ever cricketer, mystery spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, when he took a world record 800th wicket, with the final ball of the match.   

It was sub-continent spin bowling which once again proved England’s Achilles heel, as they slid to a 75 run defeat, in Galle this week. Rangana Herath, a decent enough left arm spinner, but not in the same league as Murali, took twelve wickets, for which he received the Man of the match award, ahead of his captain, Mahela Jaywardene, who top scored in the game with 180 crucial first innings runs.          

England’s Jonathan Trott finished up on the losing side, again, despite recording England’s first century of the winter.

It was also an England team which boasted a strong, but ultimately disappointed, Notts CCC contingent, with Samit Patel making his Test debut alongside county colleagues Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.

Having had a brief but close association with Rwanda, as a VSO volunteer, my ears pricked up when TMS commentator, Jonathan ‘Aggers’ Agnew, announced that during Wednesday’s lunch interval he would be talking  to the project director of the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation‘Building a future for cricket in Rwanda’.

It was an interesting and inspiring interview by Oli Broom, a cricket enthusiast, who had previously raised considerable sums of money for the British Neurological Research Trust and the Lord’s Taverners with 14 months of pedal power, cycling the 15,500 miles from London (Lord’s) to Brisbane (the GABBA) in time for the start of the last  Ashes series.     

Please follow the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation link, above, to find out more.