Fifth IFCR World Festival, Colombo - GB & I


GB&I Squad official photo

The Fifth IFCR World Festival was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 12 to 18 August 2007.

301 participants, comprising 12 teams from 7 countries - Australia (3 teams), Great Britain & Ireland, India (5 teams, from Gujarat, Hyderabad, Bangalore & Chennai), New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and a combined Pakistan/ Sri Lanka XI participated.  Although South Africa were unable to send a team, two representatives, Gordon Dowsett and Garnet Carr, joined the GB&I team as “Honorary Poms”.


All stayed at the excellent official hotel, the Hilton Colombo, which provided a lot of opportunity for camaraderie.


Each team played four matches, reduced from the normal 35 to 25 overs, partly because of concerns about the heat, but mainly to allow two matches per day on each ground. Matches were played at excellent grounds in Colombo, and IFCR was extended the rare privilege of having the use of both the current and former Test Match stadia.

After a mass photography session at the Sinhalese Sports Club stadium, where England will pay Sri Lanka later this year, the hosts opened the tournament against the GB& I team.

GB& I fielded their strongest XI, out of the party of 17 players, for this match, but were apprehensive because the Sri Lankan team are much younger. Much to everyone’s surprise, the GB&I opening attack of Charles Hirons and Euan Stirrat made quick inroads into the Sri Lankan batting, with three wickets in the first four overs.  A fourth fell to a run-out, and with their top batsmen gone for only 32 runs, Sri Lanka struggled against GB&I’s accurate bowling.

GB&I needed to score only 103 to win, and did that comfortably, with openers Stuart Williamson and Phil Stevenson, and IFCR Chairman Michael Jackson all scoring maximum 30’s before being required to retire.

 In a genuine team effort where everyone contributed, GB&I Man of the Match was Eric Hill, who so impressed the opposition with his slick wicketkeeping and aggressive batting  that he overcame the claims of the bowlers and various "30 retired" batsmen.  He received a silver & ruby tiepin donated by Rotarian Careems Jewellers.

Scores for this and other matches are on World Festival Sri Lanka 2007 - Scores,

The second match, at the former Test ground, was against Bangalore Reds, who were less well-known than their formidable colleagues in Bangalore Blue (very much the team to beat!). The Reds turned out to be a very capable team.  GB&I, including the remaining members of the squad, batted, and scored a respectable 150, with Phil Stevenson, Euan Stirrat, and “Kolpak” player Garnet Carr all achieving 30 retired.

Unfortunately the bowling and fielding wasn’t up to the previous day’s standards, and although Charles Hirons did get a couple of early wickets, the strength in depth of the Reds’ batting got them home in the 20th over.  Still, it was a respectable performance, particularly as the Reds were averaging about 20 years younger than the GB& I team. Garnet Carr was awarded GB&I Man of the Match and the Careems Jewellers tiepen.

After a rest day on the Wednesday, another weakened GB& I side took on Western Australia. The match did not go well, with GB&I putting up a low total which was easily overhauled.  The Western Aussies were delighted, as this was their first win since being formed after the Third Festival. GB&I Man of the Match and Careems Jewellers tiepin winner was Stuart Williamson.

The final day saw GB& I back at the Test Stadium, for a match against Gujurat, who had performed strongly all week. GB& I batted, but with the pitch playing slower after four days, several of the batsmen struggled to score quickly.  Only Euan Stirrat achieved 30 not out, and the total of 131 was disappointing.

Gujurat, thinking they would easily make the runs, altered their batting order, but Skipper of the day, Stuart Williamson, countered that by reserving overs from the better bowlers.  As expected, Gujurat lost several early wickets, but when their stronger batsmen came in, they had difficulty in scoring at the required rate and continued to lose wickets.  The game was poised on a knife edge, and with one over left, Gujurat needed five runs with two wickets left. The bowlers’ overs had been miscalculated, and Williamson had to turn to irregular bowler Norman Brown.  Demonstrating amazing temperament, he bowled an immaculate over, which left the batsmen flailing and missing several deliveries.  The scoreboard showed GB&I as having achieved a victory, but after a count-back of the scorebook, the Captains, in true Rotary spirit (which might not have applied against Aussies!), agreed on a tied match.  GB&I Man of the Match and Careems Jewellers tiepin went to Alan Cox, for three wickets in his allotted five overs.

Off the field, there were numerous excellent functions.  The opening ceremony at the beachfront Galle Face Hotel was very successful.

On Tuesday 14th there was a superb reception by the Sri Lankan Tourist Board at the deceptively named Mount Lavinia, again a beachfront resort. Dinner under the stars on the beach, with wonderful traditional dancing, attended by Sri Lankan Test player, and former Captain, Aravinda da Silva, and the event finished with a flourish when, at midnight, the large Indian contingent celebrated Independence Day, with not a little help from the rest of the party.

A charity auction raised over $10,000 for local projects. Prior to the tournament, the GB& I team had bought new equipment from Sri Lankan sources, and that was left for distribution to school cricket development projects in Sri Lanka.


On Wednesday 15th, there were opportunities to visit special meeings of two local Rotary Clubs. Most of the GB& I party attended Rotary Club of Colombo East, at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, and enjoyed the opportunity to chat with and listen to an excellent talk by Sri Lanka’s current Captain, Mahele Jayawardene.

He described how he had developed his cricketing career from the schools coaching structure, and he was delighted that IFCR was providing support and equipment to extend and develop the scheme into schools for under-privileged children. He also remarked that he had watched one of the Festival games, and had been impressed by the skill and enthusiasm of the veteran players, particularly in the warm, humid conditions.




At an informal dinner in the hotel, GB& I member Norman Brown entertained an assortment of GB, Aus and NZ members with a speech revealing an interesting insight into his married life, from a position just beyond plate-throwing range of his wife

Official events concluded on Friday 17th with a dinner and entertainment at the Bay Leaf Restauarant, but many players from GB & I and elsewhere stayed in Sri Lanka for a few days’ touring.