After all the angst and uncertainty, it was as if we'd never been away. Up until the moment that the first ball was bowled, the doubts still lingered about the readiness of the venue, but after three traumatic years, nothing was going to prevent this comeback from being completed. International cricket is back in Galle, and on the evidence of a brief but eventful day's play, it won't be departing again in a hurry.

It was, quite simply, a blisteringly hot day. Some forecasters claimed it was 97% humidity, but it was hard to spot the 3% of Matthew Hoggard's brow that wasn't drenched in sweat. But for the punters around the stands, the heat was nothing but a blessing - most of them had feared this would turn into a sub-tropical Glastonbury, but the brutal conditions did away with all the mud and ensured that the duckboards upon which their chairs were perched didn't sink below the boundary boards.

Down at pitch level the conditions were stifling - it's hard to imagine that many of England's fielders were too chuffed when Michael Vaughan won the toss and bowled. The English supporters did at least have canopies over their seats to provide partial respite - all apart from the occupiers of the "special enclosure" to the right of the pavilion, whose roof won't be erected until tomorrow. The locals on the mudflats at midwicket weren't quite so privileged, although their concessionary ticket prices of 20 rupees (compared to the English figure of 500 rupees) did somewhat redress the imbalance.

As ever at Galle, the best and cheapest vantage point was up on the ramparts of the glorious old Dutch fort. A mass of Englishmen lined the walls, armed with a day-long supply of drinks and picnics, soaking up the rays as well as the incredible views spread out below them. A steady breeze fanned them all day long, while down below them, by the roundabout behind the bowler's arm, a band jammed away on a mini-stage, their tunes adding to the general festivity of the occasion.

There was only one place to be if you really wanted to escape the heat, however. The new pavilion complex really came into its own on this opening day. The air conditioning in the press box and the executive suites was like walking into the deep freeze at the back of a tandoori restaurant - even though the ECB chairman, Giles Clarke, had to wait for a posse of ten locksmiths to pick their way into his quarters.

It was almost too cool for the occasion, although the pavilion roof - a short hop up a flight of stairs round the corner - proved to be the perfect place to take in the full vista of a grand occasion. The giant screen at midwicket (fully operational just in time), the beer- and sun-drenched tones of the Barmy Army, the Sri Lanka flags on the fort and the England banners on the fences, and the majestic backdrop of the 17th century clocktower. All captured in a single eyeful. If you let your thoughts wander, it's almost possible to believe that nothing has changed since England were last in town.

Andrew Miller is the former UK editor of ESPNcricinfo and now editor of The Cricketer magazine