Essex v Surrey, Specsavers Championship Div One, Chelmsford, 1st day May 26, 2017

Sam Curran feeds off masterful Sangakkara


Surrey 334 for 7 (Sangkkara 177*, S Curran 90) v Essex

Play 01:24
County Championship round-up: Sangakkara and Pujara tons dominate

In the opening 50-minutes, Surrey were 31 for 5. The rest of the day? 303 for 2. What happened, you ask? Kumar Sangakkara. Again. The Sri Lankan, who just last week said he was giving up the game because, ultimately, he is worried success might go to his head, registered his 61st first-class hundred. If it hasn't now, when will it?

This was a fifth hundred in a row, a third in eight days and, without doubt, one of his best for Surrey. He sleeps tonight on his highest score for the club.

No other batsman in Surrey's history has gone five on the bounce. Only seven others have done so in first-class cricket, with Sangakkara the fifth to pull it off in the County Championship. CB Fry, Mike Procter and Don Bradman went on to six. Sangakkara would be no slouch even in such distinguished company.

As ever with the 39-year-old, he was playing a different game to the rest. Even Essex seamer Matt Quinn, who had taken Surrey's top order to the cleaners with 3 for 13 in his opening three overs, was thrown by the mere presence of the man, losing his line with a few down the leg side early on.

It was in Sam Curran, a man 20-years his junior, that Sangakkara found adequate support. Their partnership had a festival feel as they put on 191 - a new Surrey record against Essex for the sixth wicket.

Sangakkara was the headline act: fans on both sides of the fence cheering appreciatively with each classic stroke they've seen time and time again (the century, from 174 balls, was brought up with an on drive that you'd like to take out for a nice seafood dinner). But Curran was more than happy to make the side-stage his own. Those present will have left Chelmsford having learned more about Sam than Kumar.

Sam had learned a bit too from the last time he was close to a maiden century. This impressive innings ended on 90 when he skipped down the track and tried to send Simon Harmer out of the ground for a second time. Dip, turn and James Foster behind the stumps for his first Championship start saw him stumped. His walk off was slow, but nowhere near as slow as his departure on 96 against Lancashire last year. Then, he was emotional as he got back to the changing room. Today, he laughed.

© ESPNcricinfo

"Ah you know," he began, "last year I was on 96 against Lancs and I got out defending. So this time I thought, well, it's almost risk and reward, so you know… Obviously I'm gutted but, hey, what can you do?"

A rush of blood to the head - let's face it, he's 19 - should not detract from a truly remarkable passage of play that he and Sangakkara embarked upon. The pair went into lunch at 67 for 5, with Curran nursing a bruised hand, yet returned to put on 147 in the afternoon session.

While Sangakkara did what Sangakkara does, Curran emerged unscathed from a hostile tussle with Neil Wagner to unfurl some sumptuous shots of his own: through wide mid-on and the covers primarily, before he hit Ravi Bopara into the pavilion at square leg for his first six. It is worth remembering that as he came through at Surrey, Sam Curran's batting was talked about more than his bowling. Today explained why.

The frustration for Essex didn't stop with him. Stuart Meaker (43*), masquerading as a No. 9, came in and hit his highest score in three seasons with such gusto that he shocked Sangakkara into a few shots of rage: twice he charged Wagner and thumped him down the ground. The morning's carnage seemed a long way away

Rory Burns, leading Surrey after an injured toe kept Gareth Batty out of the playing XI, opted for a toss, won it and then saw his side lose five wickets in no time. Mark Stoneman, Scott Borthwick (Surrey's only other centurions this season) and Burns himself fell to Quinn bounding in from the River End. All were undone by deliveries that went across them and bounced more than expected in Quinn's opening three overs, which saw him pass 100 first-class wickets. Not too shabby spread across 50 innings for Essex, Auckland and New Zealand A.

Then Jamie Porter got involved from the Hays Close End, undoing Dom Sibley with a cracker that took the top of off and coercing Ben Foakes into playing onto his own stumps. Given the disarray Sam Curran walked into, his innings seems all the more remarkable.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Worldcricketlover on May 28, 2017, 11:08 GMT

    With all respect to Sanga, his retirement was right. He failed miserably on own backyard against Ashwin.

  • Jose...P on May 28, 2017, 5:41 GMT

    We can sing paeans for Sanga, without denigrating Sachin! Can't we?

  • Jose...P on May 28, 2017, 4:41 GMT


    Yes, That expression! Seen it before.

    In the review of a restaurant. Here it is:

    "You can't beat a fish supper!""

    Review of

    Banny's Fish & Chip Drive Thru

    With a 5-star rating to boot.

    That reminds me.

    Wonder, whatever happened to "Cod and Chips" & "Yorkshire Pudding", our co-contributors in these columns. Being a foodie, whenever I see your name, I often think these two brethren!

    And used to joke. "Cod & Chips" for breakfast. "Nutcutlet " for a light lunch, And, "Yorkshire Pudding" for an early supper!


  • Jose...P on May 28, 2017, 4:22 GMT


    What a way, to ride off from the game!

  • Cpt.Meanster on May 28, 2017, 0:48 GMT

    Wow so many Sachin haters here. Sanga is a quality player but the Don (Bradman) only named one player who equaled him in grace, technique, and attitude - Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Sanga is a good batsman, Sachin is a genius. No comparison there. But good on Sanga for showing young county batsmen how it should be done. Enough with the hate. Sachin is Sachin. Sanga has to go a long way before he can join him there.

  • Engee on May 27, 2017, 23:49 GMT

    It's hard to compare some if these batsmen against one another. Sachin is child prodigy but Sanga has a higher test avg. One stat that I like to see is who contributed to most wins both home and away?!

  • neil Scofield on May 27, 2017, 17:58 GMT

    Dravid is the best no one else is even near 31000 balls in test cricket.... Moreover he's a team ma. Whatever the team asked him he did....he has played far less odis and that too in not a permanent position but still has 10 k runs...this shows dravid is an absolute legend... Sanga is greatest left hander agreed but no match to THE WALL RAHUL DRAVID

  • Deepfreezed on May 27, 2017, 16:59 GMT

    Sang a retired from internationals too early. Someday he will think back and say it was a mistake.

  • tappee74 on May 27, 2017, 16:54 GMT

    Surijit,Your statement,"He is definitely a legend, but not the league of great batsman" is absolutely incorrect or fractured knowledge . A LEGEND is one who towers above,one who has the distinction of being a superstar. I will give you some stats to ponder over. After 134 tests,Sanga scored 38 HUNDREDS and 52 Fifties with an average of 57. This is GREATNESS incomparable. In the 38 hundreds,he has 10 DOUBLE hundreds,has a 199 not out and fell twice at 192. His ODI stats show 25 hundreds and 93 fifties at an avg of around 41 . His form which until now has not faded, indicates that had he played 200 TEST like Tendulkar, he may have broken his record. In conclusion, MR KUMAR SANGAKARA is one of the batting greats.

  • AricentHarish on May 27, 2017, 16:11 GMT

    Any article on batting will feature a comment on ST. Curious to know against whom PP scored his tons.