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The Voyage of Spectacle Sri Lanka Superfans — Episode IV

The Voyage


Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Sri Lanka Superfans — Episode IV


Sri Lanka Superfans

Episode IV – Jamaica

After four flights (including a layover back in the United States) and a night in Barbados, we made it to Kingston the night before the game and grabbed a cab to the Jamaica Pegasus hotel.

Wait, you say, that hotel sounds vaguely familiar.  Perhaps this is what you’re remembering.

After a long cab ride through a pretty sketchy city (everything bad you’ve heard about Kingston appears to be true), we made it to the hotel and saw the team getting ready for dinner.  They were obviously quite happy to see us, which was great.  Although the entire city was allegedly sold out of hotel rooms, we managed to strong-arm one, thanks to a little help from head coach Tom Moody.  Room secured, we changed clothes and spent the evening having a few beers with Tom and Trevor at the hotel bar.  That’s right – the night before the World Cup semi-final match, we were having beers with the coaches (not crazy boozing, just a couple).

Two interesting things came up in our conversation at the bar.  The first concerned one of the topics of speculation surrounding the team – whether 22-year-old opening batsman Upul Tharanga would be dropped in favor of 36-year-old former captain Marvan Atapattu, who had yet to play in the tournament.  Some fans were clamoring for it, and internet speculation was rampant.  We got the message loud and clear that this was not happening.

“Upul was the best looking player out there today at practice,” Trevor said.  “He’s going to have a monster game tomorrow.”

This led to the second topic of conversation – my dream of the previous evening.  Tossing and turning in Barbados, I ended up having a very strange cricket-related dream (I’ll spare you the details), but I awoke suddenly and quite disoriented.  Where am I?  I thought.  Oh, yeah, Barbados … on the way to the cricket match.  I wonder who is going to have the big game for us tomorrow?

That day, I had worn a T-shirt that I had bought at the Heineken Regatta – the 27th annual Heineken Regatta.  The design on the back incorporates a large 27 in a circle.  Sri Lanka’s No. 27 is Mahela Jayawardene.  I’m not a particularly superstitious, but I somehow felt confident that the semi-final was going to be Mahela’s day.

I told Trevor about the dream, and that I thus was confident that Mahela was going to be the man of the match.  “I’m predicting 114,” I said.  “Seriously.  He’s going to win the match almost by himself.”

“O.K.,” Trevor said.  “I’m holding you to that one.”

The next morning, we set out from the hotel to the stadium via taxi.  About 10 minutes into our 20-minute crawl through crushing traffic, a large, beat-up, strange-looking truck turned left in front of us.

Immediately, we were overcome with the single foulest smell I’ve ever experienced – a blast at once rotten, chemical and fecal.  Upon further inspection, we determined that the truck was one giant twelve-level chicken coop.

Covering our noses, we yelled at the driver to get out from behind the chicken truck.  Thankfully, he obliged, and shortly thereafter discharged us outside of Sabina Park.  Sabina Park is a fairly run-down stadium in a fairly run-down part of a very run-down city.  Because of the impossible logistical barriers faced by traveling fans, the stadium was less than full and tickets could be had for a song – we ended up giving away our two extras for nothing.

Our Sign for the Sri Lanka Versus New Zealand Semi-Final Match in Kingston, Jamaica -- The Final Match Was Held in BARBADOSThis time, we were plenty early.  We put up our banner and took our seats with Yehali and Vasana.  Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat.  In stepped Tharanga and Jayasuriya.  On only the sixth ball he faced, the mighty Jayasuriya was cleanly bowled (right at the beginning of this clip) by James Franklin and was out for just 1.  Later he told us, “I just missed it.”  Just missed it?  Sanath Jayasuriya doesn’t “just miss it.”  Maybe we really had messed him up with our sailing trip!

This, of course, wasn’t remotely funny at the time.  In came Sangakkara, who went out for a slow and mediocre 18 when he tried to crush a juicy looking delivery and mis-hit it (see the 0:50 mark of the clip).

Thankfully, the much-maligned Tharanga was bashing away at the other end.  When Sangakkara fell, Sri Lanka was at 67 off of 66 balls, quite a good score, thanks almost entirely to big hitting by Tharanga, much of it against the vaunted Shane Bond.

Jayawardene Century Mark at the Sri Lanka Versus New Zealand Semi-Final Match in Kingston, JamaicaIn stepped Jayawardene.  What followed was both sublime and actually quite strange.  For the first 47 balls he faced, Jayawardene scored a measly 17.  Even with Tharanga firing on the other end, Sri Lanka was at only 111 when Tharanga was out on the games 151st delivery (the first ball of the “second half” of Sri Lanka’s innings). Then Jayawardene absolutely exploded.  He added 98 more runs off just 62 deliveries, crushing fours and sixes all over the ground.  He was helped by a comical piece of misfielding by Bond (see the 2:50 mark), who, in addition to his gaffe, was pounded by Sri Lanka for 59 runs as a bowler, by far his worst showing of the tournament.

Even a couple of ridiculous (there’s no other way to say it) lbw decisions dismissing Chamara Silva and (especially ridiculously) Tilikaratne Dilshan couldn’t stop Sri Lanka.  Jayawardene did my gaudy prediction of 114 one better, and his onslaught (115 not out off just 109 balls) took Sri Lanka to 289, the second-highest score ever in a World Cup semi-final.

Needless to say, we were feeling pretty good at the halftime interval.  Numerous jokes regarding Vasana’s husband and Mr. Fleming were once again made, and it was hard to see how 289 wasn’t going to stand up given the quality of Sri Lanka’s bowling.

Well, the good news for Stephen Fleming was that he (1) did manage to score and (2) wasn’t dismissed by Vaas.  The bad news is that he scored only 1 and was yet again called out lbw, this time against Malinga (at the 4:02 mark).  I led the Sri Lanka section in chants of “Who’s your daddy?” which wasn’t exactly appreciated by the New Zealand faithful, one of whom pelted me with a projectile chicken wing.

But for the first 20 overs, New Zealand hung in pretty well, scoring 100/2 and keeping us at least appropriately nervous.  In the 21st over, the dangerous Styris was caught.  Two overs later, it was enter Murali, exit New Zealand.  On consecutive balls, he took wickets from Oram and McCollum, and the game went from close to over in the span 45 seconds.  For a glimpse at just what a master he is, I commend to you his highlights from the match.

The Franklin Patel Partnership Just Couldn't Get It DoneNew Zealand had collapsed, and only some garbage-time heroics by James Franklin and Jeetan Patel got them to 208, a paltry total.  Sri Lanka was into the World Cup Final, having administered an 81-run pasting.  What a performance in demolishing a good team.

After some celebrating at the ground, we raced back to the hotel to meet the bus, encountering mostly nice, gracious Kiwis and a surprising number of vicious Australia fans (I’m sorry, is your team even playing today?) along the way.  If Australia were playing al Qaeda, I’d root for al Qaeda.  Even worse, if Australia were playing Notre Dame, I’d root for Notre Dame.  Across the board, irrespective of age or gender, these are the most despicable people I have ever met.  The level of racism is beyond anything I’ve ever heard anywhere.

This time, the crowd back at the hotel was huge.  As the team walked off the bus, nearly every player ran over and hugged us.  Jayawardene ran at me, threw his arms around me, and said, “You’re going to have to tell me about this dream!”

After everybody changed clothes, we were invited to the post-game team celebration at the hotel.  Once again, it was us, the families, the coaches and the team.  Dozens of would-be crashers tried to get in on the action, to no avail.  We stayed up until the wee hours eating pizza and drinking beer with the team.  The story of the strange dream was told and retold, with Trevor always there to say that he’d heard the 114 prediction himself.

Unfortunately, our flights (three of them!) to Barbados required us to be at the airport by 4:45 a.m., leaving us about two hours for sleep.  We gathered up our stuff, stumbled down to the lobby and grouchily braced for a very long day of travel.  The cab picked us up, and we took an eerie pre-dawn ride through the abandoned streets of Kingston, not a vehicle in sight … until we approached a stop light and saw a strange, large truck turning left onto the road in front of us.  You guessed it – the chicken truck had returned!  And it smelled just as bad the second time around.

For the conclusion to our Sri Lankan Cricket World Cup odyssey, click here.

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