If ever a cricket tour proved a non-event, it was West Indies' whistle-stop visit to Sri Lanka, which featured the first-ever Test between the two. The tour was savaged by bad weather: only one of its five fixtures ran its full course. The Test match, which was riveting while it lasted, had less than 12 hours' play. The only other first-class match, at Galle, was even more abbreviated. Rain prevented a finish to the first one-day international and the third was turned into a 23-over match.
The Test match, very poorly attended, suffered from being staged in Moratuwa, 12 Miles from Colombo, at the Tyronne Fernando Stadium, the most poorly appointed of the four venues in Greater Colombo. The stadium is named after the President of the Sri Lankan cricket board, who also happens to be a cabinet minister and MP for Moratuwa. The three one-day internationals were all favoured with venues in the city itself.
The most relevant shortcoming of the Moratuwa ground, laid on old pasture-land, was its inadequate drainage. This deficiency was emphasised more than once during the Test. After the first day's play was abandoned, the touring team went directly to the Sinhalese Sports Club ground in Colombo and had an extensive outdoor practice. They said afterwards that very nearly a full day's play would have been possible there. Again, on the last day, when not a ball was bowled despite bright sunshine, cricket was played all over Colombo in perfect conditions.
Considering how passionately Sri Lanka clamored for Test status and, later, bemoaned the absence of incoming tours - due to political troubles - which held back their standards, it was jarring to observe how little they valued Test cricket. In fact, when the tour was first projected, it included a three-Test series. It was rearranged and shortened to accommodate the Hero Cup, a limited-overs competition in India in which both teams took part.
Judging by the tension between the sides in the only match played in its entirety, a longer or less disrupted tour could have been unpleasant. While Sri Lanka were successfully chasing runs under the floodlights of the Khettarama Stadium, the West Indians claimed that the captain, Ranatunga, when non-striker, prompted the umpires. Matters were brought to a head when Ranatunga, in a clear violation of the spirit of the game, took a run after a return from the field was deflected off his leg.
R. B. Richardson (Leeward Islands) (captain), D. L. Haynes (Barbados) (vice-captain), J. C. Adams (Jamaica), C. E. L. Ambrose (Leeward Islands), K. L. T. Arthurton (Leeward Islands), W. K. M. Benjamin (Leeward Islands), A. C. Cummins (Barbados), R. A. Harper (Guyana), R. I. C. Holder (Barbados), C. L. Hooper (Guyana), B. C. Lara (Trinidad & Tobago), J. R. Murray (Windward Islands), P. V. Simmons (Trinidad & Tobago), C. A. Walsh (Jamaica).
Manager: D. A. J. Holford. Cricket Manager: R. B. Kanhai
Match reports for