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First trophy of the tour in room 353

Posted in England U19s

Ben Brown

© Getty Images

Sussex's Ben Brown writes article 2 of our England U19 blog from the 2008 world cup tour party

Unfortunately I have to start this blog on a slightly negative note as we were indeed beaten by our big rivals Pakistan U19 by five wickets at the impressive Test venue, SSC.

The game was not without positives however, as Billy Godleman racked up another excellent ODI hundred. Bill has been in great form all Tour and long may it continue through the World Cup.

Another positive was the return of Stuart Meaker. Meaks has been recovering from a stress fracture in his back and it was brilliant to see all his hard work with Steve McCaig (Physio) and Matt Sanders (S&C) finally pay off as he returned to full fitness and the starting XI.

Now that the competitive environment of the tri-series was over we had a chance to play all the squad in a friendly fixture against a strong and experienced Sri Lanka Academy side. This proved to be an excellent opportunity for the batters to spend time at the crease on an excellent wicket, and for the bowlers to gain further experience of bowling on these placid sub-continent wickets.

The game itself was lost but in the context of our World Cup preparations it was a successful learning curve for everybody.

Off the field, despite the losses, spirits have been high and everybody has been enjoying the vast variety of restaurants available at the hotel. As Steve Finn mentioned earlier in this blog, there have been games of darts played regularly in the English style ‘pub’ in the hotel.

What he didn’t mention is that in the official darts competition organised by the social committee (Greg Wood, Billy Godleman, James Taylor), myself and my room-mate, Tom Westley, were victorious, knocking him and Chris Woakes out of the competition at the semi-final stage! Our trophy sits proudly on the table of room 353!

After a relaxing day off we were back into a competitive ODI against Sri Lanka. This was the first game of a three-match series against the hosts. Recent matches hadn’t quite gone to plan so inevitably the boys were desperate for a winning start to get the series off on the right track.

This was exactly what we got and in a comprehensive style winning by nine wickets with 20 overs to spare. It was an excellent team performance but one in which our seam attack deserves a special mention. Things at times have been tough for our quartet of fast bowlers who have been faced with flat wickets, power-plays and extremely aggressive batsmen!

They had to go back to the drawing board and come up with some plans to counteract the way that teams were attacking during the powerplay overs. After many meetings and hard work at the training ground they formulated good gameplans and it was brilliant to see them executed with great skill level here against Sri Lanka, to help set up a comfortable run chase for the batters.

On the subject of fast bowlers it has been great to see Steve Finn working so hard to return to full fitness after a painful hernia operation over Christmas. He must be very frustrated to have not been out on the pitch, but he has been brilliant off the field helping the team out wherever possible.

It was brilliant to see him finally bowling in a recent net practice especially as I had already had my bat and was watching safely from the back of the net! The boys now eagerly await his return to the starting XI.

Looking ahead now, we have two more ODIs against Sri Lanka on this leg of the Tour before heading to Kuala Lumpur for the World Cup. These games provide a great opportunity to hit Malaysia with a series win under our belts and confidence held high.

It is also a big opportunity for everyone to stake a claim for a place in the starting XI in Malaysia. Such is the ability in the squad that the majority of the starting places are still being eagerly competed for.

Touring always provides a great opportunity to see different parts of the world and also wherever possible to try to give something back to that area. This year we are hoping to visit an orphanage in Colombo to meet the children there and to donate some money which we have raised on Tour. This visit will hopefully go ahead on Saturday although unfortunately we will have to await confirmation from our Security Manager, Sam Dickason, following the recent bombings which have taken place in Colombo and other areas of Sri Lanka.

Hopefully the visit will go ahead as we have managed to raise a lot of money through our fines committee. Before the Tour I was appointed Chairman of the Fines Committee along with Sam Northeast and Steve Finn. I have taken great pleasure in fining the boys 100 rupees (50p) for every minor ‘offence’ which is committed.

Surprisingly the experienced campaigner, John Abrahams, has been a regular offender and along with Stuart Meaker, Liam Dawson and Dan Redfern has contributed generously to the orphanage! Keep the offences coming lads as it is all in a good cause!

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