Sri Lanka train at picturesque Radella Cricket Ground in latest facility in the country

Sri Lanka’s cricketers and coaching staff provided a glowing endorsement of the country’s latest training facility in Radella, Nuwara Eliya, following a week-long training camp at the newly renovated ground.

Located some 4000 feet above sea level, the Radella Cricket Ground – home to Dimbula Athletic & Cricket Club – is among the most picturesque in the world; its immediate surroundings comprise the trademark greenery and mountainscapes of Sri Lanka’s hills, with waterfalls and tea estates aplenty, ready to greet those who venture further out.

But more than the scenery, it was the conditions at the ground which most pleased those in attendance. Ahead of the team’s departure to New Zealand – where they will compete in two Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is – the combination of high altitude and cold weather, along with the pace, bounce and movement present at Radella, offered the players as close a facsimile to the conditions they are likely to face in the coming month.

“The wickets we’ve been playing on have been excellent,” Sri Lanka head coach Chris Silverwood said on the sidelines of the training camp. “Decent pace, good bounce, little bit of movement, and obviously the climate has suited us as well as training at high altitude; very similar to what we may face in New Zealand.”

The renovation work has been headed by Godrey Dabrera, Sri Lanka Cricket’s manager of international venues and facilities. Having started on the work towards the end of last year, Dabrera headed a 20-member team in relaying four centre-turf wickets as well as installing five practice wickets, all of which was completed in a span eight weeks.

“The work that Godfrey and the team have done here has been absolutely fantastic, to get this place up and running, to give us the conditions and the facilities we have here,” Silverwood said. “They’ve done a great job in such a short period of time as well.”

Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne echoed his coach’s thoughts, and was particularly pleased at his bowlers being afforded extra time to get used to colder climes.

“I think the bowlers benefitted quite a bit. For the fast bowlers, it’s not like bowling in warm conditions; bowling in colder conditions is a little harder,” Karunaratne said. “Even for the spinners, gripping the ball can be difficult in a colder climate. So things like that were very useful. We also have a lot of young players in the squad who haven’t played in New Zealand, so this was a very useful experience.”

Sri Lanka completed their training camp on Thursday, and will now head back to Colombo to continue their preparations. The tour of New Zealand begins with the first Test from March 9 in Christchurch.