wooPlaying cricket in Galle, you are connected to the Indian Ocean on both sides. A small shore juts into the sea, off Sri Lanka’s teardrop-shaped southern curve. Much of it is taken up by the Galle Fort, which is massive in bulk and rises from the flat ground in a grand phantom of stone. From Portuguese to Dutch to British to modern Sri Lankan tourism incarnation, its eras reveal themselves in patches like different coats of varnish. People avoid the rain under its central archway. A bird flies like an arrow into a small hole high in the cliff. On a patch of grass below, with it raining, 60 children armed with cricket bats practice pull shots and drives in a soundless ballet.
On the neck of the promontory, where it narrows, the oval sits like a pendant around its neck. The playground and the trees outside glow emeralds in the sun. From its seats there is a view of the fort wall. The opposite side faces the wider city. Then on the shores, that ocean. There are plenty of cricket grounds that show you water from afar: some river or estuary, a blue background miles away, small boats for trembling zoom lenses. Here, it’s close enough to detail. A heavy surface of green and brown. The waves roar, that white frothy herd of horses snores and pushes before crashing onto the shore. All day long, in the stands, you listen to the boom and swell that entices you or lifts you on your own personal tide.
Gal does his version of Hot. The kind of tropical heat that wraps around you is like a wet cloth. You may create little sanctuaries of air conditioning, but you are living in denial. Always, outside, it awaits like darkness beyond the light switch. Sometimes the sea breeze sweeps across the city, providing respite to those lucky enough to have found shade. However, the moment you find yourself in an airless space, you’ll be sweating with your entire body, every surface of your skin covered. You are a small human flood.
The sky turned cloudy in the morning on the second day of the first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia. Clouds compete for space in a suffocating environment. A deluge begins, falling not in drops, but in large chunks of rain, the water rippling the earth like an open palm. The air rises, then moves forward. It tears up the shadow structure on a grandstand. It knocks on the TV cameras on their gantry. This frees up a row of windows and breaks them. It threatens to take the radio marquee down the roof, leaving some unfortunate commentator behind in the sky with a rope like a sad Mary Poppins.
The game resumed within two hours. The sun has returned. The ground staff, in their dozens of shift tarpaulins that had previously been spread across the ground, shuffled the water from one to the other to keep the arena dry. Damage beyond the area is treated as a part of life, equating with hurricanes.
It’s tempting to generalize about resilience. It is a different fun to watch cricket in Galle in 2022. Ringing the ground with hundreds of meters of pavement is a row of blue propane bottles, padlocked together so that they cannot be easily carried away, brought here from the home’s kitchen as a statement by a country dweller Gaya, which has no supplies to refill them. Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has raised the price of essential commodities, creating a shortage of medicines and other imports. With petrol among them, a lack of transport has closed schools and sank businesses.
The Galle Cricket Ground is a natural focus for protests, as it is next to the main railway station, bus depot, post office and town hall. In front of the stadium walls is a small camp of Gota Go Gama, a recent nationwide campaign against the nepotistic Rajapaksa family that dominates Sri Lankan politics. On the first day there is a vigorous march outside the gates on the stumps. In front of the ground on the walls of the fort, where people sit to watch matchsticks, the protesters are chased away by soldiers. Beyond a sight screen, like the sails of a three-masted schooner, small protest banners would distract cricketers, according to the Army. TV cameras are ordered not to point in that direction, probably because it would distract the audience.
Galle may be the home ground as far as the Sri Lankan cricket team is concerned, but it has not been for a pleasant hunt. In five Tests against Australia in more than 23 years, Sri Lanka’s two-day defeat in 2016 is their only win. Last week, Australia returned the favor even more quickly to take their third place. The next match of the series, starting on Friday, will be played at the same venue to save travel. The pitch would again be dry, cut down by grass, not only sunbaked, but eroded by salt winds. This is not the place for an uncertain batting lineup to prosper. Yet a few days from now, Sri Lanka will have to dust off the dust and go back. And again, you can draw obvious parallels. But portraying virtue in suffering is one way to alleviate it. There are times when nothing is so cheap as a metaphor.
‘या लेखात समाविष्ट असलेल्या कोणत्याही माहिती/सामग्री/गणनाची अचूकता किंवा विश्वसनीयता हमी नाही. ही माहिती विविध माध्यमे / ज्योतिषी / पंचांग / प्रवचन / विश्वास / धर्मग्रंथांमधून गोळा करून तुमच्यासाठी आणली गेली आहे. आमचा हेतू फक्त माहिती पोहोचवणे आहे, त्याच्या वापरकर्त्यांनी ती फक्त माहिती म्हणून घ्यावी. याव्यतिरिक्त, त्याचा कोणताही वापर वापरकर्त्याची स्वतःची जबाबदारी असेल. ‘
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