2007 – Leigh-on-Sea Cricket Club celebrate Centenary with Tour of Sri Lanka

Leigh-on-Sea CC Centenary LogoA few of our member clubs have celebrated their centenary, but none have done so in more style than Leigh-on-Sea Cricket Club.  There’s nothing quite like a cricket tour to sunnier climes, especially one to Sri Lanka (the teardrop in the Indian Ocean) which provides the chance to play at THREE Test Match venues.  And that’s exactly what the Leigh club achieved in the Spring of 2007 – quite literally a nice warm-up to the domestic season ahead, despite the eleven-hour flight and a return trip of over 14,000 miles.  A total of 44 club members and their wives, girlfriends and families, ranging in age from 6 to 70 years, travelled from Terminal 4 of Heathrow Airport on the 21:35 Air Lanka flight, non-stop to Colombo on Thursday 29th March.  The tour party included 22 players, one of whom was the club captain, Mark Sexton.

Coach transfer from Colombo airportA very warm welcome was received on arrival at Colombo Airport – in more ways than one!  The coach used for transport throughout the tour had a special message for the tour party emblazoned across the front (pictured, right) and soon the party was having its first views of their host country.  The tourists eventually arrived at the impressive Mount Lavinia hotel (pictured below, left), formerly a residence of four British Governors at different times, which has retained the elegance and opulence from days of The British Empire.  This was to be the base for the first four days of the tour.

Mount Lavinia Hotel, ColomboOn arrival at the hotel, the tourists relaxed with a drinks reception followed by an evening welcome party.  This was followed by a “free day” at leisure on 31st March, although optional net practice was available for the players in the afternoon.St Thomas' College Ground, Colombo

The first tour match took place on Sunday 1st April against the Mount Lavinia Hotel XI, which was played at the nearby St. Thomas’ College ground (pictured, right).

On Tuesday 3rd April, the tour party travelled on to Kandy, staying at the Amaya Hills Hotel.  One match was played against the Trinity Old Boys at the Asgiriya ground (a Test Match venue) on 4th April, followed by sightseeing visits to the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, the Sacred Temple of the Tooth, a traditional Sri Lankan Cultural Show and a spice garden.Leigh-on-Sea v. Clubworld Sports Holiday Travel Select XI

On Friday 6th April, the tour party returned to Colombo to stay at the Trans Asia Hotel and en-route visited the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala.  While in Colombo, two further matches were played, one on each of the two main Test grounds.  Leigh-on-Sea CC was a guest of the Colombo Cricket Club on Saturday 7th April.   The hosts were founded in 1832 – making them the oldest club in Sri Lanka.

Following two full days at leisure, the tourists then played a Clubworld Sports & Holiday Travel Limited Select XI at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground at Cinnamon Gardens  (pictured, above).  Just a few months earlier, in July 2006, on the same ground, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka set a record 624-run partnership against South Africa – the highest partnership of all time for any wicket in first class cricket.

Scoreboard at the Sinalese Sports Club
Leigh-on-Sea CC and Clubworld Sports Holiday Travel Select XI at the Sinhalese Sports Club
Scoreboard showing perilous state of Leigh-on-Sea innings at the
Sinhalese Sports Club Test ground on Tuesday 10th April 2007
Leigh-on-Sea CC (back row) and
Clubworld Sports & Holiday Travel Limited Select XI (front row)
at the Sinhalese Sports Club Test ground

On Wednesday 11th April, the tour party transferred to Club Bentota, a luxury beach and lagoon resort (pictured, right), for the final two days of the tour. The town of Bentota is situated on the southern coastal tip of the Galle DistrictClub Bentota beach and lagoon resort and is famous for its golden beaches and historical rock fortress.

The party departed for London on Friday 13th April, no doubt with fond memories to last a lifetime.

Vic Hewitt, who organised the celebration centenary tour said:   “This tour was a memorable experience which was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone whether they came for the cricket or just a relaxing holiday”.  Pictured below is the entire Leigh-on-Sea tour party, on the swimming pool terrace of the Mount Lavinia hotel, Colombo, on Tuesday 3rd April.   It is hoped to add tour scorecards to this website as soon as possible.

Leigh on Sea CC - Sri Lanka Tour Party 2007

Acknowledgements
Vic Hewitt (Hon. Secretary, Leigh-on-Sea Cricket Club)