BBC BLOGS - Adam Mountford

Archives for March 2012

A historic venue as England search for redemption

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Adam Mountford | 13:24 UK time, Saturday, 31 March 2012

Jonathan Agnew began his podcast with Geoff Boycott on Thursday talking about how romantics were dreaming of an historic England victory.

Well if those romantics did not get the result they wished for in the first Test, they should at least be pleased with the venue for the second because the P Sara Stadium is an enchanting location.

To give it its full name, the Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Stadium is the oldest cricket ground in Sri Lanka and is home to the Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club.

The ground was famous for having a female curator named Amravati who worked at the P Sara for 40 years. Although she is long retired, her sister Saroja continues to be involved.

It is a little rough around the edges and there is clearly a last-gasp effort to get things ready in time for Tuesday's 10am start, but the ground has a wonderful aura of history.

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England head to iconic Galle for start of Test series

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Adam Mountford | 16:28 UK time, Thursday, 22 March 2012

It's certainly been an eventful start to England's final tour of the winter.

An emphatic opening victory marred by accusations of "cheating" with an England player talking about "wanting to kill" one of the opposition, a thrilling run chase as darkness began to fall at the SSC and a game disrupted by reports of a cobra by the boundary edge and a two foot lizard on the outfield. At one stage I thought about sending for David Attenborough rather than Jonathan Agnew.

And the drama is unlikely to diminish as the tour moves the 116 kilometres from Colombo down to Galle, a location which has been in the headlines many times over the past few years for events both on and off the field.

The Galle International Cricket Stadium is one of the most iconic venues in world cricket with the 200 year old UNESCO protected Dutch Fort providing a stunning backdrop and the Indian Ocean in the distance. Then at the other side of the ground you look down on the hustle and bustle of the bus station and local markets with traders selling a vast array of spices and freshly caught fish.

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Cheat storm threatens early tour calm

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Adam Mountford | 05:13 UK time, Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Although the England camp have been keen to play things down there is no doubt the on-field argument surrounding a disputed catch during the opening match in Sri Lanka, and the very strong words about it from Graeme Swann, have caused an early tour stir.

There are few stronger things that a cricketer can say about a fellow player than to call them a "cheat" let alone using language like wanting "to kill the batsman".

England coach Andy Flower is an exceptionally calm individual who is always measured about what he says in public and although his comments about the need to respect the "opposition" were not made in direct response to Swann's "cheat" allegation, I think it's fair to assume that is probably what he was getting at.

He also made the comment that England players have to be very careful preaching about "walking" because it's not necessarily the case that they are all the first to leave the crease before an umpire's finger goes up.

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The heat is on for TMS in Sri Lanka

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Adam Mountford | 10:42 UK time, Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A tour of Sri Lanka is often viewed as one of the most difficult for a cricketer with the combination of heat and humidity, flat pitches and hugely talented opposition.

Broadcasting Test Match Special in this country has also brought its challenges over the years. This is my fourth trip to what is known as the "tear drop isle" and there have been a few hairy moments since my first visit here nearly 10 years ago.

My first international match in charge of Test Match Special was in Sri Lanka back in 2003, a one-day international played in Dambulla.

England's Test captain Andrew Strauss made his international debut in that match - but it's not a game he'll remember fondly as he was dismissed for three as England were skittled for 88.

Things weren't much easier up in the TMS commentary box that day.

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