Barmy Army takes over the reins in Galle | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Barmy Army takes over the reins in Galle

Travelling English supporters hugely outnumbered local Sri Lankan fans at the start of the first Test in Galle on Monday, making it look like a home match for the tourists.

cricket Updated: Mar 27, 2012 00:41 IST

Travelling English supporters hugely outnumbered local Sri Lankan fans at the start of the first Test in Galle on Monday, making it look like a home match for the tourists.

An estimated 8,500 English tourists, many of them members of the famous "Barmy Army" of diehard supporters, packed the Galle International Stadium which has a current capacity of just 9,000 spectators.

Local fans chose to stay away after the cash-strapped Sri Lanka Cricket adopted a 10-fold increase in ticket prices for the two-Test series, citing increased demand as the reason. For the English fans, there was little to cheer about, as hosts' skipper Mahela Jayawardene blasted an unbeaten 168 to steer Sri Lanka to 289/8.

Daily tickets were priced at 5,000 and 7,500 Sri Lankan rupees ($39 and $58), compared to the 500 rupees charged for the previous home series against Australia last year.

If the match lasts all five days, it could cost a fan at least 25,000 rupees - the monthly salary of a low-level government official in Sri Lanka. "It is too expensive," said Galle shopkeeper Dhaminda Wijesuriya, who preferred to watch the game on television. "I think they want England to feel at home at our expense."

Some tourists who could not secure tickets for the game watched play from the vantage point of the historic 17th-century Dutch fort which overlooks the stadium.