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The Voyage of Spectacle The Most Expensive Game Ever Played — Part V

The Voyage

Spectacles

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

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

The Most Expensive Game Ever Played — Part V

  

The Most Expensive Game Ever Played

Part V — After the Match

We left the stadium and had a beautiful, sun-drenched late afternoon stroll across the Savannah, both of us a bit punchy after quite a few surprisingly delicious Stags and a satisfying victory.

The India fans seemed to melt away into the scenery, and we found ourselves strangely alone on our Sri Lanka's Team Bus Returning to the Hilton After Beating (and Eliminating) Indiawalk.  As we crossed over from the Savannah to the grounds of the Hilton, we heard police sirens behind us.  We turned and saw motorcycle cops leading a bus that obviously held one of the teams.  Again, we were the ONLY people on the sidewalk.

I squinted closely and made out the lettering.  “It’s the Sri Lanka bus,” I determined.  Melissa fumbled to get the camera ready.

At this point, we both just went nuts.  Jumping up and down, cheering, clapping, pumping fists, all by ourselves as the bus drove by.

In the window, you could see a string of dark faces with giant, ear-to-ear smiles, all looking at us and Andy and Lasith Malinga (We Had Just Sprinted Up a Huge Hill to Meet the Bus)cheering back.  We dashed up to the hotel entrance, hoping to catch them on the way in.

We were almost in time, managing to greet and high-five the last few guys getting off.

“Hey, bro,” came the surprisingly colloquial greeting from a smiling Chaminda Vaas, giving me a high-five.

Andy on Trinidadian Television (Everyone Was So Stunned to Encounter American Cricket Fans ... We Were Very Popular!)We followed them in and headed to the bar to gloat with other Sri Lanka fans.  We carried on for about two hours, talking about the game, repeatedly explaining our Sri Lanka allegiance and just having a good time.  A camera crew came by and interviewed us both (separately) for Trinidad television – no telling whether we made it on.

About that time, a guy sitting at the bar asked the same two questions we’d been getting:  (1) Where are you from?  (2) Why do you support Sri Lanka?

We answered and he seemed quite pleased.Andy and Melissa and Sri Lanka Assistant Coach Trevor Penney

“Fantastic.  I’m Trevor,” he said, extending his hand.

“Nice to meet you, Trevor.  What are you doing here?”

“Actually, I’m one of the Sri Lanka coaches.”

Indeed, it was Trevor Penney, the Sri Lanka fielding coach.

Trevor was a fantastic guy, very engaging to talk to and happy to discuss the day’s game, the Sri Lanka team, and cricket in general.  Soon, we were joined by Sri Lanka Head Coach Tom Moody, team physical trainer Tommy Simsek, English World Cup Security Officer George Thorpe, and – oh, yeah – Mahela Jayawardene (didn’t see any beers for him, I should add…).  We sat at the bar and talked about cricket, the mental state of both teams before the match, sports psychology in general, how to deal with pressure, the use of baseball techniques in cricket, our sailing trip and all sorts of other things.  The seven of us just hung out at a table – with Jayawardene getting periodically dragged away to take pictures and me dashing over to congratulate Dilshan for his fine performance – for the next two hours.

“The scene with you guys dancing around by the side of the road was spectacular,” said Moody.  “You Melissa and Sri Lanka Head Coach Tom Moodyshould have seen the guys on the bus – they were going crazy – I’ve never seen them that pumped up.  Thank you for that.  Seriously … thank you.”

I told them we were probably not going to be able to make any more games.  This sort of bummed them out.  They kept trying to get us to re-route our trip.  We kept shrugging — we’d think about it.

It was time to leave, and we began to walk out of the hotel.  For all of the excitement, I still hadn’t met Murali, the Sri Lankan legend who will set a wicket-taking record that likely will never be broken.  He’s the 5’8” junk-balling Sri Lankan Nolan Ryan of cricket.

All of the sudden, there he was, walking in as we were leaving.

“Mr. Muralitharan, my name is Andy He-…”

He cut me off with a wave of the hand.

Andy and Muttiah Muralitharan“Stop, stop, stop.  I know who you are.  I watched you on television all morning,” he said, cracking a big smile and shaking my hand, obviously referring to his players’ lounge viewing while Sri Lanka batted.  He stopped for a picture and smiled from ear to ear.

Well, that did it.  We’re re-routing the trip.  We’ll be sailing from St. Lucia down to Grenada to watch three more Sri Lanka matches:  April 12 against New Zealand, April 16 against the world’s best team, Australia, and April 18 against Ireland.


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