An English cricketer fan who waited 10 months in Sri Lanka to watch his team play was escorted by police before a ball was thrown in the first test on Thursday. Rob Lewis, who decided to stay in the country after the initial tour was cut short due to the coronavirus last March, had to resort to subterfuge to take a peek at the play of the day. Lewis has been ordered to leave the historic ramparts of Galle Fort, a vantage point that overlooks the town’s cricket ground, just after the national anthems. The game took place behind closed doors due to the pandemic.
“I am very frustrated. I waited 10 months to watch this game and the police kicked me out,” Lewis told TBEN.
“At least I managed to sing ‘Jerusalem’,” he added.
Hours after receiving his marching orders, Lewis returned to another area of the fort further off the ground, but still with a view of the match.
“Back to the Fort because I work here now,” he said on Twitter without giving an explanation, as he wore a helmet and a fluorescent safety vest over his England T-shirt.
He had put up three banners, including one for the Barmy Army, as England supporters are known, and another for a charity helping stray dogs in Sri Lanka. But they were also demolished by the authorities.
During his time in Sri Lanka, Lewis worked remotely as a web designer and made stints as a nightclub DJ.
He traveled to Galle Fort on Saturday to make his plans, as it has become clear that no spectators will be allowed on the pitch.
Lewis said he had been warned in advance that he would only have limited access to the ramparts.
“They gave me half an hour to put up three banners and go. That’s it,” Lewis added.
“There will be nine more days of play and hopefully I can get permission to go back.”
Sri Lankan police have banned all visitors from the 16th-century city walls, a magnet for locals who want to avoid paying tickets, officially for security reasons.
But a few journalists were allowed to cover the game from the fort.
Fans and media have been excluded from the stadium due to the coronavirus, which has infected more than 50,000 people and killed nearly 250 people in the South Asian nation.
Sri Lankan journalist Rex Clementine has scaled the ramparts to maintain his record for coverage of every test in Sri Lanka since 2000.
“I want to keep my file even if they don’t allow journalists in the field,” he said.
Soldiers and security guards in hazmat gear were stationed in the stadium and checked the few people allowed to enter.
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