Sri Lanka team bus attack 10 years on: Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace on their survival

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Download and listen to the full interviews with Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace, for Sale as a Test Match podcast.

This article was initially published in March 2019.
On 3 March 2009, the Sri Lanka cricket team were at Lahore, Pakistan. This was the third morning of some other Test match. Shortly outside the Gaddafi Stadium, just before 9am local time, 12 gunmen ambushed them.
Six policemen along with a motorist escorting match officials were killed. The attackers were armed with grenades, assault rifles and rocket launchers.
Here former England coach Trevor Bayliss and his assistant Paul Farbracewere to the team bus. Here, 10 years on – and as Pakistan prepares to host its very first Test since they describe how they survived.
Farbrace: We were a team that is dreadful. We had the same seats in the bus. I was always three straight back, on the side as you have on.
That morning I had my back up on the seat. I was cleaning my own sunglasses, talking to Trevor over the aisle about what that afternoon, we were planning to mention into the bowlers.
Next thing, the bus jolted and came to a stop quickly.
I turned and looked out the window above my shoulder. I could find this guy moving firing this gun, having a gun.
I then looked down the front of the bus and that I could see the top of a car which was driven onto the roundabout to obstruct us. The next thing the bus shook rather liberally.
The Sri Lankan guys in the bus had seen bomb attacks. They so were probably faster to lose weight and were aware. I believe as people shouted to lose weight, I had been thrown into the ground with the jolt.
After I hit on the ground, there was really a substantial amount of blood . I didn’t understand where it had come out of before I realised that I had a thick piece of metal sticking out of my forearm.
Bayliss: I had awakened with a bit of a hassle so I was lying back in my seat with my eyes. I would be sat back two from the driver, and Tillakaratne Dilshan was in the seat facing me, just behind the driver.
All of a sudden there was this burst that it captured your attention. In a few moments the other hand grenade or some thing went off next to the bus.
I was half asleep. That I moved, everybody was on the floor in the middle of the bus. I just jumped down between the seats.
A large roundabout was next to the ground and Dilshan said there’d been a vehicle reversing.
Some men were shooting at the police in the van in front of us and got out. There were other people waiting at the middle of roundabout too.
Farbrace: The grenade injured us bits of the bus that arrived in.
Ajantha Mendis, that was in the seat facing me, he’d dropped to the floor as well and had been bleeding quite appreciably from the back of his head.
On my side of the bus there was Mendis facing me subsequently Tharanga Paranavitana who had been hauled behind me. He had shrapnel in his chest and had passed out.
His coaching shirt was soaked in bloodflow. He had handed out on his chair along with also the physio and the trainer reverse pulled him down by his legs to get him down on the floor.
Then behind them was Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera that were sat together.
As Sanga fell to ground Samy fell along with him and his butt was in the atmosphere. A bullet hit him, it went in at the top of his thigh.
Bayliss: I had been crouched down with my mind facing the outside of the bus between the seats, I could sort of see the men beneath between my thighs back.
Farby was right behind and he had a bit of shrapnel sticking from his armand I could see the blood trickling down.
The calmness about the bus was one. The only thing said was quietly:’I am struck ‘,”So am I.’ Time seems to stand still in this kind of situation.
There was not anything you can do. You had to find low, get your head down.
There were openings flying through the glass and somebody shouted out to get the bus going although the bus driver had jumped onto the floor.
Farbrace: ” I didn’t think about dying. I would say I had been fearful. Looking at the arm I was thinking’please don’t hit on me. I really don’t want to be hit’.
The seat there were three bullet holes from the window. He’d got down and place his rucksack along with his computer in it up against the window to offer himself a bit of protection.
Bullets were hitting on the bus but everyone was incredibly calm. It was an eerie calm. Was Dilshan’s although You will find bullets pinging the bus, even hitting on the glass. It was a voice. I can hear it now, I most likely will for the rest of my life.
He would sit right behind the driver. I can hear him shouting to undo. The driver had got himself and was steering his arms.
He had begun to undo back like this while Dilshan was the one popping up his head and giving him directions to break free from the attack.
The motorist was given enormous charge, along with his abilities in getting us from this situation were incredible, but to this day I believe Dilshan’s bravery saved our lives. Sticking up his head and talking the driver , telling him where to turn, that probably saved .
It seemed like this all lasted ages but it likely was just moments, perhaps a minute and a half, I really don’t know. That is the 1 place that for this day I’ve never been clear on – how long the entire thing took.
Bayliss: Some said it went on for 10 minutes but in fact it was likely a moment or two in the maximum. Time stands still in that sort of situation.
We had been 30 minutes or so from the scene and once we took off it wasn’t too long before we got to safety, but we can hear the gunshots.
The other driver and half a dozen policemen were although nobody from our tour celebration was murdered. There’s footage I believe someone took using a phone of this umpires with their white van.
After we got into the ground we felt a lot safer, and it was about trying to look after the guys who had wounds.
There was a feeling of relief to get some of those men that quickly begun to turn into anger when the authorities came and said every thing was OK. It wasn’t OK. It was just like an army hospital.
Farbrace: There was lots of blood. Once we got to the changing room, officials coming in, with medical folks coming from, that is when the degree of anger and distress among us begun to strike home.
Seeing individuals in our team placing to injured and the physio beds bleeding, in distress and in the event, that is when we started to realise exactly how bad the problem was. Ajantha Mendis had taken out of his mind.
They attempted to take out us to hospital but I refused to go back on the market, there was no way that I went anywhere by street. However, Thilan [Samaraweera] and also Para [Paranavitana] needed to be obtained because their injuries were so severe.
The 2 men were taken off and with the TVs on, seeing the news in the roomsthey demonstrated this image of an ambulance. It was immediately proved it was one that had been in our convoy although we believed it was the one which had taken away the players. There was lots of emotion.
Chris Broad, the match referee, came to our room and his white match top was covered in bloodflow. His face was so still white. The umpires along with he, they had been at a minivan. We were in a great coach, with and high up some type of protection. They had nothing.
Their van driver has been shot and murdered, the umpire Ahsan Raza was shot from the trunk. They’d been through an experience .
Steve Davis, among those umpires, he had a bullet hole through the trouser leg’s flare. They’d managed to escape after a policeman drove the van out for them and caught in.
Bayliss: I awakened my wife and she only picked up the kids from school, it was about 3pm in Australia.
Fortunately I managed to consult with her since the information had been reported quickly, and back in Australia they had been saying that the Sri Lankan coach was shot – they didn’t use the term bus but trainer. Thankfully I’d talked to her from the time her asking was ringing if I was OK.
We had been in the dressing area for approximately five hours. They got two big Chinook helicopters to land on the pitch and pick us up. That excursion was somewhat daunting too, we were not exactly sure what was occurring.
We took off at around 2:15pm, also it was a trip to an aviation base. A plane was sent by the Sri Lankans with nurses and some physicians and some of the administrators and management.
We then took off out there in about 10 in the night and flew directly back to Colombo.
Farbrace: That was the time, when we were in the helicopter.
There had been talk about a rocket launcher being fired and going over the cap of the bus before, and I thought:’Are they really going to attack again?’
Before we got to a height where I thought we would be safe as soon as the plane took off I had been very nervous.
Most of us spent at least a week at hospital at Colombo. It became a bit of a hub. Ajantha Mendis used to sit on the spare bed in my room, a number of the other lads and we’d spend quite a while chatting.
There is a very close bond supporting those of us involved with the incident, and that is something you will never lose. That panic and fear we had.
There are always likely to be the memories that are difficult. And the attack certainly had an impact on me and the way. For four months I slept with the light onto. I used ton’t like people walking . If there’s a normal after a while you go back to regular.
But I saw Ajantha recently and that he said he remembered a time I had jumped beneath the bed because I was so worried and when a load of firecrackers went off outside the hospital window. It was the very first time since the strike that welaughed, he said. 1 object of humor in a experience to go through.
It was horrendous and people died. It just shouldn’t have occurred, that people died trying to help us get to a match of cricket.
I have {no anger or bitterness, only a deep sadness for those individuals who died|only a deep sadness for those {people|men and women

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