England captain Joe Root’s action has raised the bond England players share with their travelling supporters. @ Getty Images
England captain Joe Root’s action has raised the bond England players share with their travelling supporters. @ Getty Images

England captain Joe Root stepped in and assured the travelling fans at Kandy all support after almost 100 fans, who had booked rooms at the Earl Regency, located on the outskirts of the city, were told a week before the second Test against Sri Lanka that their rooms are no longer available.

Even the rooms of the teams and officials had not been confirmed. The Sri Lankan government were left red faced and tried to dilute the fiasco by insisting that the supporters shift from the hotel to move those involved in game. The other option provided was to shift the venue of the second Test.

The former option was enforced and England’s travelling fans had to be content with accommodation which was at least a three hour’s drive one way from Dambulla, although the local cops claim the journey wouldn’t take so long. Spectators were ‘compensated’ with a fruit platter in their hotel rooms.

England and the England Cricket Board were disappointed with the overall arrangements made, but were left helpless to do anything with the decision of accommodation, travel resting with the host Baord.

According to a report in ESPNCricinfo on Thursday, Root met with the 100-odd supporters at lunch on day two of the second Test at Kandy, posed with pictures and handed out letter expressing the team’s sympathy. Each letter, it is learnt, was hand-signed by Root.

“As England Test captain, I would like to thank you on behalf of the team and the ECB for your support here in Sri Lanka,” Root wrote.

“We all feel the loyalty, commitment and passion that you and our travelling supporters show. It is unmatched in world cricket and must never be taken for granted.

“So, it has been a huge disappointment to all of us that your plans for the Kandy Test match have been badly disrupted, with your accommodation moved so far from the Earl’s Regency.

“You would have made your plans some time ago and looked forward to an incredible experience, seeing this country and watching Test cricket.

“It was a big surprise to us to hear of Cricket Sri Lanka’s booking issue and the threat that the match itself might be moved altogether. I can assure you that the ECB has made its views clear.

“I also know how hard our tour manager here and his colleagues at Lord’s have worked to find a solution and that, whatever additional arrangement made by our hosts, this has had an impact on you and caused difficulties for your trusted tour operators.

“As leader of this group of players, I promise that we will do all we can to give you a performance to remember and thank you for your part in this Test match.

“Thanks too for your continued support – we hope to see you at the ground.”

Root’s action has raised the bond England players share with their travelling supporters. On every day, before an away Test, a group of supporters sing the hymn Jerusalem, with the Barmy Army’s trumpeter. The hymn is accompanied with a round of applause from the players.