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Galle (Sri Lanka) (AFP)
An English cricket fan who waited 10 months in Sri Lanka to see his team play was led away by police before a ball was thrown in the first test on Thursday.
Rob Lewis, who left March last year before the original tour was cut short due to the corona virus, and decided to stay until England returned, said he was “very frustrated” by the turn of events.
Lewis was ordered from the historic ramparts of Galle Fort, a vantage point that overlooks the town’s cricket ground just after the National Anthems. No spectators are allowed in the stadium.
“I am very frustrated. I waited 10 months to watch this game and the police kicked me out,” Lewis told AFP.
“At least I was able to sing ‘Jerusalem’,” he added.
During his stay in Sri Lanka, Lewis worked remotely as a web designer and as a DJ in a nightclub.
He visited Galle Fort on Saturday to map his fallback as it became clear that no spectators are allowed on the ground.
Lewis said he had been warned in advance that he would only be given limited access to the ramparts. Three banners he had hung were also removed.
“I’m going to the police (chief),” he said. “I just want to watch the game.”
“They gave me half an hour to put up three banners and go. That’s it,” added Lewis.
“There will be nine more days of play and I hope I get permission to go back up there.”
Sri Lankan police officially banned all visitors to the 16th-century ramparts, a favorite location for locals who don’t want to pay for tickets, for security reasons.
Only a few journalists were allowed to cover the game from the fort.
Fans and media have been banned from the stadium over the coronavirus, which has infected more than 50,000 people and killed nearly 250 people in the South Asian country.
Sri Lankan journalist Rex Clementine climbed the ramparts to keep track of every test in Sri Lanka since 2000.
“I want to keep my track record even if they don’t allow reporters on the field,” he said.
Soldiers and security personnel in hazmat suits were placed around the stadium and checked the few people who entered.
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