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An oasis of calm amid the Kandy storm

Andrew Miller visits the Buddhist Research Centre as the Kandy Test reaches its climax

© Getty Images

Up in the Buddhist Research Centre, research has ground to a halt for the afternoon. So have the repairs to the monastery driveway, and the daily monkly chores such as laundering those bright orange robes and tending to the vegetable garden. There is far more to be gained from watching an afternoon's cricket.
The Research Centre and its adjoining monastery provide an enviable eyrie on the side of the hill. Although much of the ground is obscured by the great green grandstand to the left, and the whitewashed walls of the press box behind the bowler's arm, if you position yourself properly, you can peer straight between the two, and obtain a perfect view of the wicket. Three young monks have done just that, and are perched on a grass bank outside their dormitories, giving their studies a well-deserved miss.
They are not the most talkative of chaps, unsurprising really, seeing as they are wrapped in the cricket. But they are very affable nonetheless, and most appreciative of the stoic resistance that Michael Vaughan is producing before their eyes. Most of them played cricket to a decent standard at school, but have since been deprived of the chance to put leather to willow. Given the workload of the average degree student, that is hardly surprising.
One such student wanders past the window on his way to his room. He spends five days at a time here, before returning home to Dambulla at the weekend, and is currently up to his eyeballs in coursework. Ancient philosophy is one of the disciplines he is studying, along with Buddhist psychology and something that I never came across while I was at University: "abnormal psychology".
Abnormal psychology, indeed. Was that the sort of subject that could give an insight into Nasser Hussain's behaviour this week, I wondered? My monk smiled and gave an evasive reply. "We don't really think about that sort of thing."

Marcus Trescothick among Buddha statues
© Getty Images

What do monks think about, then? Something of an answer was provided by a talkative passer-by, one of a growing gathering to be taking advantage of this window onto the ground. He pointed into the middle distance, and announced that a certain hilly outcrop on the horizon was known as "sleeping beauty".
It took a moment or two to twig what he was getting at, and then a few more minutes to fit every contour into its ascribed position, but yes, on reflection there was a certain passing resemblance to the prostrate female form. I turned to one of the monks by the window for confirmation, but he just shrugged monkishly. It must be true, I thought. Everyone knows chicks dig men in robes.
Just then, a huge roar went up from the ground, and Freddie Flintoff began the long trudge back to the pavilion. Immediately, the three workmen who had been shovelling gravel into a nearby wheelbarrow downed tools and came galloping into the gap, followed by an excitable pie-dog who was attracted by all the fuss.
The end, it seemed, was nigh, so I returned to ground level, and prepared to wrap up my day. But back up on the grassy knoll, the eclectic gathering continued to peer through their window of opportunity, and put their daily duties on hold for a while.
Andrew Miller, Wisden Cricinfo's assistant editor, is accompanying England on their travels throughout Sri Lanka.