Chris Tremlett: Testing conditions make Sri Lanka the hardest but most rewarding England tour

Chris Tremlett
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The humidity in Sri Lanka means sweat is a constant problem (Source: Getty)

Sri Lanka is the hardest place I have ever visited to play cricket.

England’s players, who are one game into their tour after the washout in Dambulla today, will be faced with a many more challenges than just those on the pitch.

India has similar difficulties, but the sheer heat and humidity of Sri Lanka is something you have to brace yourself for.

Read more: England hold all the aces ahead of first Sri Lanka ODI series-opener

It sucks the life out of you. You walk out of the air-conditioned hotel and it’s like entering a sauna. England’s players will adapt and eventually acclimatise to it, but it’s not easy.

Those conditions obviously make the game different too. Although the new ball will swing at some grounds, wickets tend to be slower and the strengths of the home side mean spin plays a big part in all three formats.

As a fast bowler you’re limited to three- or four-over spells, but it feels like you’ve bowled twice as much. It takes it out of you because you’re constantly sweating.

England's first one-day international against Sri Lanka was washed out after 15 overs (Source: Getty)

The heat means even towards the end of an over you’ll find yourself short of breath. If the pitch is not offering much, sometimes it’s easier for batsmen to face the quicker deliveries, so you need to be smart and bowl within yourself.

Guys like Chris Woakes will have to be smart and just look to hit good areas at reduced pace. You can pick your moments to attack and hold back at others so you don’t blow a gasket, which will be especially important in next month’s Test matches.

In the two shorter formats variations are key. Cutters and slower balls can be your best weapons.

It’s different for new addition Olly Stone, who has that X-factor pace. He will be used in short, sharp spells to allow him to charge in and target the stumps.

Sri Lanka v England - 1st One Day International
Olly Stone (left) received his ODI cap from former England bowler Darren Gough in Dambulla (Source: Getty)

For batsmen, the heat causes similar problems, with running between the wickets laborious and sweat likely to become a distraction when trying to concentrate at the crease.

How you recover is very important. English players aren’t used to it, but you have to make sure you’re drinking water 24/7 to hydrate properly.

They’ll be using a lot of supplements, electrolyte drinks and recovery bars to keep salt levels up and stay on top of it.

England will be staying at nice hotels, which offer a variety of food and the management will ask for what they want served, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

It’s improved from the days of curry or nothing, but I imagine they will have to get used to eating chicken and rice.

I actually found I was better off eating local food, because sometimes the attempts at western food are where you can risk food poisoning.

Conditions in Sri Lanka are a challenge which England must overcome (Source: Getty)

Overall, it’s about looking after yourself and remembering little things like that you can’t use tap water to brush your teeth.

Having outlined the difficulties it’s worth noting that these kinds of tours can be very rewarding too. Away from the pitch it’s the best time to socialise with team-mates.

With security being tight you won’t get out of the hotel much, so playing table tennis, cards and video games can help bring the group closer together.

If the players embrace it they will appreciate the experiences places like Sri Lanka can offer.

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