Michael Henderson, courtesy of The Times, May 20 2017, where the title reads“Sangakkara produces a picture of an innings to put Surrey on top”
There is not much to be said of his mastery that has not been said before, and many times. But who is so mean of spirit that familiarity with this kind of skill does not bring joy? Even the Middlesex bowlers, one imagines, enjoyed the contest. They did not bowl badly. But they found a great batsman with his circus animals all on show.
Will elegance suffice as a definition? Not really, because elegance only goes so far. It cannot by itself bring 12,400 runs in Test cricket at an average, 57, that constitutes one of his strongest claims to immortality.
Jacques Kallis, for instance, is one of only four men to have plundered more Test runs. Yet nobody of sound mind ever greeted daybreak by pulling back the curtains and declaring: “Our cup runneth over, for Kallis bats today.” Such folk may exist but they are usually to be found muttering to themselves on buses. So clearly style, no less than statistical achievement, counts for something in any estimation of greatness. There are choices to be made in watching cricket, as well as playing it, and what we most admire reflects our temperament as it does a cricketer’s. Perhaps we can say that if we batted in our dreams like Sangakkara we would never want to wake up.
He hit the first ball he received, from James Franklin, to the cover boundary. But it was not a belligerent start. Watchful, happy to give the first hour to the bowlers who took three Surrey wickets for 83 after Middlesex had told them to bat, Sangakkara knew that he had all day to mould the innings, and he is a patient man.
In the early stages of their partnership, which raised the score by 114, Dominic Sibley was the more expansive. Missed at first slip by Adam Voges on 22, Sibley had just brought up his half-century, with the scent of another 50 runs in his nostrils, when Voges accepted a catch that gave Tom Helm a compensatory wicket.
By now Sangakkara had begun to display his gems, as might a jeweller. He drove Toby Roland-Jones through cover and then, with a stroke that sang a melody of summers past, flicked the bowler to the pickets at mid-wicket. Rapture! Then he went down the ground, to punish Franklin.
The sun came out. The bowlers toiled. They ran in hard. He saw them clear. Rain stopped play. He carried on. Enter Rayner. First bounce four. Hard lines, Ollie! Two short balls. Two pulls. Two sixes. His century arrived, from 132 balls. We stood in gratitude.
Ben Foakes, one of the coming men of English cricket, was caught behind shortly before the rain returned, seriously this time. If Surrey bat deep into the second day, and then bowl as they have been doing, Middlesex will have to play like the champions they are to resist them. It should be a very good match. These sides meet, for the first time in years, on level ground.
Back to the portrait. Has any player, tongues wagged throughout the day, ever walked past a tribute to himself in the famous pavilion while he was still an active cricketer? Not many. Alec Stewart, who was on the Surrey balcony yesterday, and Mike Atherton were painted in 2000, while they were still Test performers. Seven years later Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan joined the roll call of greats.
But until last night no cricketer living or dead could say that he had made a century at the home of cricket and then point his bat at the wall and say: “That’s me, that is. And I’m not through yet.” Fittingly Sangakkara’s portrait hangs alongside that of his friend and comrade, Mahela Jayawardena, who supplied 11,814 Test runs of his own to the Sri Lankan cause. Two great batsmen, indisputably. Painted at Lord’s by Antony Williams, they are there by right. And so the game honours its past, and renews itself.
Surrey resume this morning on 265, with five wickets intact. Middlesex will try to hurry things along. Standing in their way is one of the greatest cricketers. All glory, laud and honour, Kumar Sangakkara.
Middlesex v Surrey
- 19 May 2017
- Lord’s, London
- Start time:
- Michael Burns / Peter Hartley
- Middlesex won the toss and elected to bowl.
- Surrey First Innings
- 313 all out (89.1 overs)
- Middlesex First Innings
- 411 all out (107.4 overs)
- Surrey Second Innings
- 339 all out (126.2 overs)
- Middlesex Second Innings
- 92 for 2 (28.0 overs)
|Surrey First Innings||Runs||Mins||Balls||4s||6s||SR|
|Extras (0nb 0w 5lb 0b)||Total 313 all out (89.1 overs)|
|Rory Burns||c Ollie Rayner b James Franklin||33||102||69||3||0||47.83|
|Mark Stoneman||c John Simpson b Steven Finn||33||57||40||6||0||82.5|
|Scott Borthwick||lbw James Franklin||8||29||18||0||0||44.44|
|Kumar Sangakkara||c Ollie Rayner b James Franklin||114||226||160||11||2||71.25|
|Dominic Sibley||c Adam Voges b Tom Helm||54||131||111||8||0||48.65|
|Ben Foakes †||c John Simpson b Steven Finn||19||61||37||4||0||51.35|
|Sam Curran||c Ollie Rayner b James Franklin||2||26||16||0||0||12.5|
|Thomas Curran||c Ollie Rayner b Toby Roland-Jones||16||40||34||2||0||47.06|
|Gareth Batty *||c Steven Finn b Tom Helm||12||52||22||2||0||54.55|
|Stuart Meaker||c Stevie Eskinazi b Tom Helm||17||31||22||1||0||77.27|
|Mark Footitt||not out||0||9||6||0||0||0|
|Fall of wickets||Overs|
|Middlesex First Innings||Runs||Mins||Balls||4s||6s||SR|
|Extras (8nb 2w 10lb 1b)||Total 411 all out (107.4 overs)|
|Nick Compton||c Ben Foakes b Mark Footitt||19||75||49||3||0||38.78|
|Nick Gubbins||lbw Sam Curran||17||33||27||3||0||62.96|
|Stevie Eskinazi||c Ben Foakes b Mark Footitt||67||137||87||12||0||77.01|
|Dawid Malan||c Ben Foakes b Stuart Meaker||115||307||214||16||0||53.74|
|Adam Voges||c Scott Borthwick b Stuart Meaker||9||31||20||1||0||45|
|John Simpson †||lbw Mark Footitt||11||50||42||2||0||26.19|
|James Franklin *||c Rory Burns b Stuart Meaker||112||185||142||14||4||78.87|
|Toby Roland-Jones||c Mark Footitt b Thomas Curran||30||48||38||4||1||78.95|
|Ollie Rayner||c Dominic Sibley b Thomas Curran||8||29||20||1||0||40|
|Tom Helm||c Sam Curran b Stuart Meaker||2||17||9||0||0||22.22|
|Steven Finn||not out||0||6||0||0||0|
|Fall of wickets||Overs|
|Surrey Second Innings||Runs||Mins||Balls||4s||6s||SR|
|Extras (0nb 1w 4lb 0b)||Total 339 all out (126.2 overs)|
|Rory Burns||lbw Toby Roland-Jones||10||29||16||1||0||62.5|
|Mark Stoneman||c Adam Voges b Toby Roland-Jones||0||14||10||0||0||0|
|Scott Borthwick||lbw Ollie Rayner||49||186||143||7||0||34.27|
|Kumar Sangakkara||c John Simpson b James Franklin||120||275||210||14||0||57.14|
|Dominic Sibley||b Toby Roland-Jones||9||47||34||2||0||26.47|
|Ben Foakes †||not out||67||248||170||6||0||39.41|
|Sam Curran||c John Simpson b Ollie Rayner||51||101||91||6||1||56.04|
|Thomas Curran||b Ollie Rayner||22||31||38||4||0||57.89|
|Gareth Batty *||lbw Toby Roland-Jones||6||47||39||1||0||15.38|
|Stuart Meaker||b Dawid Malan||0||6||5||0||0||0|
|Mark Footitt||c Nick Compton b Dawid Malan||0||8||2||0||0||0|
|Fall of wickets||Overs|
|Middlesex Second Innings||Runs||Mins||Balls||4s||6s||SR|
|Extras (0nb 0w 0lb 1b)||Total 92 for 2 (28.0 overs)|
|Nick Compton||c Sam Curran b Mark Footitt||18||47||34||2||0||52.94|
|Nick Gubbins||c Ben Foakes b Sam Curran||5||14||10||1||0||50|
|Stevie Eskinazi||not out||31||94||80||4||0||38.75|
|Dawid Malan||not out||37||63||44||6||0||84.09|
|John Simpson †|
|James Franklin *|