Day 70

This is our third sea day before we reach Sri Lanka tomorrow morning. Today’s schedule of events is slightly re-arranged from the usual sea day. Terry’s morning lecture began at 9:45am. His topic and light-hearted presentation (including an actual demonstration) was entitled “So You’re Going to Sri Lanka and Know Nothing about Cricket?” First, there was a humorous summary of the rules with an intentionally confusing over-abundance of the words “in” and “out,” to the point out that you could not follow the description.

The earliest official record of cricket occurred in 1550 at John Derrick’s court trial. The court transcript recorded his alibi, “Judge, I am innocent. At the time of the crime, I was playing cricket.” Naturally, as a gentleman and cricket player, he was set free. Other early dates, include an international game in Brazil among British prisoners in 1806. The first international match was between Canada and USA in NYC in 1844.

Briefly, there are two teams of 11 players, but it could be less, and two sets of sticks or stumps at each end of the wicket, a 22 yard-long pitching and batting field. There are strict size dimensions for the bat and the weight of the ball. The pitcher, called bowler, throws six balls, usually on a bounce and the batter tries to hit the ball preventing the ball from knocking over the sticks behind him, or that would be an out. A caught ball is an out. After a hit, the runner can be out if the fielded ball gets to the sticks before he does. After six pitched balls, that interval is called an “over.” Every player on a team bats in rotation and play continues until each player has made one out. Then, the teams switch from the fielding team to the batting team and play resumes for that team until their last player makes the last out. Their total runs are compared to the first team’s total runs to determine the winner. That is the best I can remember.

Terry recruited some staff waiters and a maître D to demonstrate a game of cricket on the theater’s stage. Terry had bought a child’s plastic cricket set when we were in Perth. It was very humorous watching this attempt and Terry’s play calling and explanations were hilarious.

Some brief milestone cricket history includes the longest game ever played. In 1939, England vs. South Africa lasted 46 hours over 10 days. England had 970 runs and South Africa 1,011 runs. Rain stopped the game. It was called a draw, because England had to catch a train to meet their boat home. Since 1882, the ultimate cricket series, called The Ashes, is played to win a trophy. It is sort of like a Stanley Cup is to hockey. Back in 1882, the English cricket team was so distraught over losing to Australia, that they burned their wicket sticks and placed the ashes in an urn. This became the Ashes Series Trophy. It is about 3 inches tall. Weird.

We hung around in the theater talking with friends and waiting for the 11:00am pirate drill. The practice drill consisted of listening to announcements and directions, the first stage of a potential threat. The crew went to their duty stations, the stewards checked suites to shut off lights and close the room-darkening curtains, ushering guests from their rooms into the hallways. Elsewhere on the ship, crew directed passengers away from windows into safer hallway passages. In the theater, we were asked to leave our seats and move to the outside windowless walls. We waited for further instruction while the staff supervisors communicated with their crews to confirm all preparations had been satisfactorily completed. Jamie, the Cruise Director, using the ship-wide intercom, instructed us what would happen if the threat had been real.

The noontime games went fast and we won some Regent points. Pat chose to skip lunch to save herself for a special dinner tonight. I grazed about by the pool deck and sampled some Dim Sum, Wontons, and soup. Pat went to spend her allotted one hour in the sun on the pool deck while I found a slots tournament at 2:00pm. This was my first attempt and I came in first with the highest points after the three- minute episode of pushing the spin button as fast as I could and wishing for some good payouts. I walked away with $90.

Pat went to a greeting card craft making workshop and she joined me partway through the 3:00pm Destination Lecture on Sri Lanka. Michael Scott told us a lot of pre-history and historical facts about the settlement of the island and the more than 300 years of European colonization and governing. The island was granted full independence from Britain in 1948. From the 1970’s to 2009, there has been unrest and civil war with the Tamil residents in the northern region. During this time over 70,000 deaths occurred. Since early March, the PM has declared a state of emergency, based on disturbances on the eastern side of the island. This was lifted yesterday. It is supposed to be safe in the western sections of the island, where there had been no problems. Michael Scott told us about the currency and several likely tourist spots that seem to be walkable. He used Google aerial maps to highlight the walking routes and location of landmarks.

We both scored several Regent points in the Mensa brain twisters and our Trivia came in first despite scoring only 8 out of 15. The questions were really off the wall.

At 5:15pm Katia and Zenia, the ballroom dance champions from Bellarus, returned for another beautiful performance. They changed outfits at least 6 times in the 45-minute performance. Mac stayed in the cabin and started writing, while I attended the show and tried to take photos with Mac’s phone. I am not good at this and after a few pics, I pushed the camera app the wrong way and it disappeared. That was the end of my photos. The performance was very graceful, and they even showed a video of their work with challenged and wheelchair-bound Bellorussians, teaching them the art of dance. Zenia and his wheelchair-bound partner actually won a world championship together.

At 6pm we went up on deck for a Sundowner party. There were cocktails, music, and a lovely sunset to photograph. Mac found his camera app, but it was far from where it should have been. None of our friends could fix it, so Mac went to Jacques, our shipboard computer guru, who fixed it in less than a minute.

We had a birthday dinner tonight for our friend, Bob. His wife, Twila, and Joanie and Art, together with us formed a table of six. The boys had expressed a desire for meatloaf a while ago, and Douglas, the maître D, made it happen. Bob also requested baked macaroni and cheese and an ice cream cake. These were all specially prepared for the occasion. Apparently, anything is possible. None of this was on the regular menu. I don’t do meatloaf, so I had filet. We tried a favorite red wine of Bob’s that was not listed on the menu either. It was quite enjoyable and we drank 2 bottles of it. The waiters sang Happy Birthday when they brought the cake. It was a memorable dinner.

There was no 9:30 show tonight, since there was an earlier one, and many of us have early morning excursions in Sri Lanka tomorrow. Ours is at 7:55am and is 8 hours long. We will try to go to bed at a decent hour and get some sleep.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac