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Players making sweet music on tour

Posted in England in Sri Lanka 2007

They say bowlers work best in partnership and Notts off-spinner Graeme Swann is currently putting the theory to the test by giving guitar lessons to James Anderson.

The duo picked up a pair of acoustic guitars from a local music store shortly after landing in Colombo and have been strumming away ever since.

“I play the guitar big-time,” said Graeme, who lists the Stone Roses among his musical influences and bills himself as ‘a chilled out entertainer’. And the verdict on his pupil? “There’s work to do – but he’s certainly got good right hand motion.”

England one-day captain Paul Collingwood accompanied by his Durham colleague Phil Mustard and team manager Phil Neale attended the opening of the new Pavilion at Nondescripts Cricket Club, which hosted the second three-day game on tour.

The club’s proud boast is that it has produced around a quarter of the players who have represented Sri Lanka at international level including Kumar Sangakara, Lasith Malinga, Farveez Maharoof and Upul Tharanga from the current squad.

Lined by trees on two sides, the ground also adjoins the Sri Lankan Army Band training centre – and the sound of leather on willow has been frequently interrupted by bursts of Richard Strauss’s famous ‘Also Sprach Zarathrustra’ used as the theme for Stanley Kubrick’s epic film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.

Former England U15, U17 and England U19 coach Paul Farbrace was among the spectators watching the Board President’s XI take on the tourists at Nondescripts CC.

Farbrace recently left Kent where he was Academy Director to take up the role of assistant coach with the Sri Lankan team. Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara and Phil Mustard were among his protégés when he worked with England’s age-group teams and he also played second-team cricket with Owais Shah in his playing days with Middlesex.

Farbrace, who recently returned from his first overseas tour with the Sri Lankan squad to Australia, said: “It’s very different to what I was doing before but Sri Lanka is certainly an interesting and exciting place to learn more about the game of cricket.”

Sky Sports News cricket correspondent Tim Abraham is a familiar face at England’s net practices on tour. But this week he found himself taking part in one – when England bowling coach Ottis Gibson asked him to turn his arm over during a lunchtime session with players rested from the current tour match.

Abraham, who opens the batting and bowls medium pace for his club side, Welwyn Garden City, bowled a 20 minute spell at Mustard. “It was absolutely stifling and I really got a feel for what England’s bowlers have to go through. But even better I got some first class advice from Ottis on my grip and a few words of encouragement from Peter Moores.”

England players Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann attended a Q and A session earlier this week at The British Council’s base in Colombo which was attended by around 120 local schoolchildren.

After a brief introduction and autograph signing session, both players tested the audience’s cricketing knowledge with a series of cricketing teasers including Swann’s own personal favourite: ‘What was the colour of the West Indies kit in the Kerry Packer World Series in the late 1970s? Answer: Pink.

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