It was the last thing the legion of England fans who had set their alarms for the wee hours needed.
Excited for the return of the England Test team after four months, in the midst of a third national lockdown, and with the Barmy Army staying at home due to the game being played behind closed doors in Sri Lanka, there has been more interest in this series than there would usually be; a tweet by England Cricket showing their alarm set for 4.25 am received 5,700 likes on Twitter.
Who's with us? 😉 ⏰
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) January 13, 2021
It came as something of a blow, therefore, when a succession of sightscreen issues delayed play time and again on the first morning. Play was halted after the very first ball of the first Test match, then after eight deliveries, and then again after three overs.
At that point, with the electronic vision aid clearly malfunctioning, the Galle groundstaff elected to simply throw a white sheet over the rectangular board, and that should have been the end of the issues. At that point, at 4.55am, three overs had been bowled in 25 minutes. Had that over rate persisted throughout the day, England would have got through around 45 overs.
Empty ground. Three overs bowled and we have had three delays.
— Elizabeth Ammon (@legsidelizzy) January 14, 2021
Play sped up a little thereafter, although an errant head appearing above the sightscreen caused a further minor delay.
It appeared the constant stoppages might have interrupted the batsmen’s rhythm, with the hosts losing two early wickets. However, the real consternation was surely being felt in bedrooms and living rooms across the country, where supporters were fighting the battle with sleep and fatigue.