Sweating it out in Sri Lanka
We all arrived here a week ago yesterday. So eight days here to acclimatise, train and play some warm-up games. We had three days before the first warm-up match to try, as much as possible, to get used to the heat and humidity. We all struggled to a certain extent with overheating, some more than others. Guppy [Martin Guptill], at the first training, was the first one to feel the effects, his fair skin and ginger hair not helping, I’m sure. It wasn’t anything serious but he did have to stop training and get the ice bags on to cool down. It was my turn yesterday to have a few issues during training.
The combination of the heat and humidity is so hard to combat. Getting enough water on board is hard. It often feels like you are sweating as quick, if not quicker, than you can drink the water. It is so important to keep a water bottle nearby.
Our first warm-up match, at the Colombo Colts ground, pretty much went to plan. I wasn’t to play; I had this game off, mainly because my bowling loads have been good while at Leicestershire. We lost the toss and were asked to bowl first; not the worst thing as the pitch felt a little tacky. We bowled well and knocked them over for 159. Tuffey, in his first match back in the NZ shirt, picked up three and it was good to see him bowling quick picking up wickets. Our boys in reply racked up 493 with some real good looking innings in hard conditions, Dan’s [Vettori] century being the highlight. Dan came in when the score was 258 for 6, the innings in the balance, and put together a couple of strong partnerships with Baz [McCullum] and then Jeets [Patel].
In the overs left in this three-day match we couldn’t quite knock them over for the full win. A good outing first up especially as we don’t have a great record in warm-up matches.
A full day off followed that match and most of us enjoyed some time by the pool enjoying the sun and the water. A couple of us fairer skinned boys got a little more sun than maybe we should have and that was even using sunscreen. The pills we take to make sure we don’t get any nasty diseases from the bugs make us more susceptible to the sun. Silly us, lesson learnt. I should know better anyway, I just go pink, peel and then go white again anyway. Don’t know why I try to get a tan!
Yesterday was training. It was a tough one and I suffered a little. Hit the nets first up for five overs, one to warm up and then four flat out at match intensity. Pads straight on after that for a bat, probably had them on for 45 minutes and in that time I didn’t drink enough. A quick lunch break and then into the gym for a circuit. It was here where I started to feel a little ‘funny’. I got through the circuit and then had some time to do my ‘pre-hab’ stuff. I was getting a little shaky, nothing too much, but I knew I wasn’t the best. I stopped and grabbed a couple of bottles of water and sat down. I weighed myself and since the start of training till here I had lost over a kilo and then you add to that how much sweat was soaked into my clothes and I knew I had lost a whole lot more. My t-shirt felt like it had been thrown into a pool, it was that wet. After some time to recover I felt fine again and headed out to fielding training. This was a good time to get a very good reminder about how much water you lose in these conditions. I’ll have to work very hard to keep hydrated during the sessions on the park.
Which brings me to today: the second warm-up match. Dan won the toss and we batted first; always the option in games like this, it should mean we get two at bats. We didn’t quite have it all our way today though. The day finished with us 283 for 8 and I’m not out. I’m pretty happy with it too. Jeets and I have put on 50 so far, I’ve scored just nine of them, but it’s the partnership that counts.
I’ve been working hard in the nets with Saqlain Mushtaq, who’s come on board with us as a spin bowling consultant, on playing spin and also facing a lot of bowling machine and the quality net bowlers we’ve been privileged to have help us out. Yesterday’s batting was good. I got a load of tennis balls fired out of the bowling machine; short and at me. It was what I needed; I felt pretty good playing, ducking and weaving. Of course I got pinned a couple of time but it just reinforces the positions I must not get into. Out in the middle today I got the opportunity to use all the things I’ve been working on. Nine runs off 41 balls which included the new ball being taken and I get to open the batting in the morning.
And in other cricket news, my predictions for the Ashes are, so far, spot on. One draw, one weather-affected draw, and one win each. If England win this last Test, I’ve picked it right. Sri Lanka and Pakistan are currently going head to head in the Twenty20 over my left shoulder. Interesting battle; Afridi just out, good for SL, he’s an amazing player!
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Fast bowler Iain O'Brien played 22 Tests for New Zealand in the second half of the 2000s