The NZ v Sri Lanka Test is well under way at Galle, and as I type this Murali has just smoked Chris Martin like a big fat Cuban cigar and sent the first ball he faced for six over cow corner.
Aside from the brilliant footage of turtles, corn on the cob, the fort, fishing vessels and cows, I have enjoyed the distraction of the banner competition.
Each cricketing nation displays idiosyncratic conventions in terms of its crowd banners: the Poms focus on Union Jacks with obscure hamlets and football clubs emblazoned across them, the Australians are massive on the spray paint vs sheet combination, and in India there is artistic flair for the vivid marker on to A3 paper approach.*
But overnight in Sri Lanka the preferred medium has been crayon on cardboard. And the banners on display have been variously good, bad, ugly and downright odd. Witness the following examples:
* "MAHELA & SANGA: These are our life"
* "NZ and SRI LANKA: Build up the p/ship between the above two strogly"
* "Carry on Sanga - our heartest congratulations"
* "Feel the heat when the lions on the hunt"
* "This is a real Chance Vettori why did you miss that game"
* "SAMARAWEERA is very good batsmen"
* New Zealand: Not a Game For Tigar Killers
Given the prize on offer is 5000 Sri Lankan rupees (about NZ$65), you might be thinking you get what you pay for. But that would be unfair as your money goes a hell of a long way in Sri Lanka. For example, according to The Economist a Big Mac in Galle will set you back 210 rupees, equivalent to about $2.70 here in the Shaky Isles and more than $2 cheaper than what you will pay if you're headed down to Maccas for lunch today.
For the record, this post was not in any way inspired by any missives from the Sri Lankan cricket authorities, despite their release asking that the Banner Competition be given "the widest coverage by publicizing this promotion, in order to generate public interest and better spectator participation".
*At Beige Brigade HQ we have always had an affinity for displaying homages to small horses - see www.smallhorse.co.nz - primarily as a tactic to confuse Australians who expect us to be focused on sheep.
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