Sports

England cricketer experiences nightmare in Sri Lankan sea

England off-spinner Gareth Batty experienced a nightmare while swimming in the sea in Sri Lanka and was rescued from drowning by alert life guards. The incident took place on Sunday when Batty’s course while surfing was changed by an undercurrent. Reports reveal that he had escaped with a few cuts and bruises after being thrown against coral rocks.

The incident happened on Sunday afternoon after training when the 26-year-old, on is on his first senior tour, went body surfing with Vaughan and Matthew Hoggard.

"I’m OK now, just a bit embarrassed, but it was frightening...I feared the worst for a few moments," said Batty who was straying no further than the hotel pool yesterday.

The Hotel, The Lighthouse, is on a rocky promontory on a coral coast which is notorious for its undercurrents. It is also reported that currents had claimed the life of a tourist only a week ago.

Batty, said: "We asked the life-guard if it was all right and he said it was fine provided we stuck to this channel which we did, and we caught a couple of waves in but when we went out for a third one the current caught us and took us out 20 or 30 feet and the next thing we knew we were getting whacked into

the rocks.

"Hoggy’s a stronger swimmer than I and he managed to make it back, and Vaughany managed to clamber on to the rocks. He could tell I was struggling, and was shouting and getting pretty animated on the rocks, it was his waving that caught the attention of the lifeguards and about six of them came

flying out with rings and all-sorts.

"The current whacked me into the rocks and they were hellish sharp, and as I tried to get up, another wave knocked me over again and I was being dragged around on the rock, that was the scary bit.

"If you get caught in a rip they say let it take you along but it’s not that easy when there are sharp rocks around."

One of the lifeguards, Wellage Gamini, blamed Batty for straying out too far: "We tell Europeans it’s OK to swim but only near the shore, the problem was he went out too near the rocks where the tides are strongest.

"We saw he was in trouble and swam out to him and helped him to the rocks. I think he was a bit shaken and tired. The water’s more dangerous at the moment because there has been a lot of rain and that adds to the swell.

"He was a good swimmer but it is very difficult for anyone who goes out too far."

Batty, who made his Test debut in Bangladesh last month, is at least in good company among England cricketers who have given the team a scare on tour.

In 1994 the bay-watch squad in Newcastle, Australia, had to come to the assistance of Darren Gough when he was caught in the current, and in 1991-92, Graham Thorpe and Mark Ramprakash got into difficulties in the Caribbean on an ‘A’ tour although they made it back to dry land without a rescue party.

"I am now the subject of much micky-taking," said a rueful Batty. "And to make it worse, the Sri Lankan boys are staying at the hotel as well and know about it too."


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