England v Sri Lanka, 1st Investec Test, Lord's, 3rd day June 14, 2014

Sri Lanka's brothers in arms

The hug Kumar Sangakkara received from Mahela Jayawardene after completing a century at Lord's was just another chapter in their bromance
34

A man turns to his mates, clenching his fists and showing his guns in the successful warrior pose. His mate runs up and jumps on him, half hugging, half choking as he climbs up his back. Then the successful warrior walks towards his group of friends to acknowledge their existence. His mate stands behind him behaving erratically and smiling uncontrollably.

Kumar Sangakkara has made a Test century. Mahela Jayawardene is happy for him.

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The ball is full and perhaps hinting at moving away. Jayawardene lazily moves into position and wafts at the ball. It is almost the perfect get out shot, except he is so inept he misses the ball. His foot isn't planted until Matt Prior is about to collect the ball. For a second, Jayawardene loses his grace, the way he makes the ball look slower than it actually is, and goes into dreamland looking for the easy drive. Mahela looks up at Kumar and laughs, Kumar smiles back.

---

On the balcony at Sugar bar in Colombo, nursing an arrack and coke with a friend, we realised that behind us were Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. My friend knew them, and whispered to me, "Mahela will come over, and be excited to see me here. Kumar will wave from a distance. You have to earn it a bit more with him."

Two minutes later Mahela came over and was excited to see his friend. Twenty minutes later, Kumar waved through the crowd.

---

The field is set for a leg-theory examination of Jayawardene. He pulls the first one away without much thought for the field at all. It's easy and natural, like he's playing against a kid, not a fired up new era English bowler trying to prove himself. He looks right at home.

Sangakkara faces the same short-bowling leg set-up. A short ball is fired in at him and takes him on the body as he tries to pull. He walks away and rubs himself. He looks angry rather than in pain. The next ball is just as fast, and just as well aimed, this time Sangakkara pulls it away off the middle of the bat between the two fielders set to stop it.

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Sangakkara has been in the country for longer than his team. Playing in Durham, acclimatising, working on his game, doing what he has done since a child. Improving and working. He wasn't the high school superstar Jayawardene was. Sangakkara is what he is as much because of how hard he works, how much he wants it as much as how well he times it. He probably dreams of throw downs and plans for planning.

His place in cricket history is pretty much assured, but England is somewhere that travelling cricketers want to really conquer. Lord's even more so. And that is what this innings was about. Helping his team is a given, but helping his team at the place they call the "home of cricket", that's something else. Especially at a place he is largely revered for speaking at, after his MCC Spirit of Cricket lecture in 2011. Many people have been eloquent at Lord's, fewer have added 147 in a Test and stencilled their way into history as well.

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Sangakkara has placed the ball perfectly to short fine leg and wants three, he charges up and down the wicket. But Jayawardene turns down the third. Sangakkara holds his hands up and asks why? Mahela points to his knee. Kumar shakes his head in disappointment.

Take out the cricket and replace it with a common household chore and it's almost every argument you see between couples the world over.

---

The cherub-and-gentleman vibe is nowhere near accurate and actually sells them short of what they really are: fierce, determined, passionate cricketers who want to win

Mark Waugh was born playing an effortless flick to backward square leg. Steve Waugh had to wait until he could walk before he first dropped the ball on the leg side and stole a single. Their styles of play complemented each other perfectly. One was hard and smart, the other pretty and effortless. One statistically superior, the other naturally better.

Despite sharing a womb, house and many changerooms, you'd be hard pressed to say they are closer than Kumar and Mahela.

At a sponsor event, Sangakkara was asked to look like he was dressing Jayawardene, for the sort of standard embarrassing athlete photo opportunity. What was already awkward enough was made more so by the fact that people already question how close they are. If cricket had an erotic fiction genre, Kumar and Mahela would have many chapters together.

Sri Lanka is already awash with them as a pair. Want to be as happy as Kumar and Mahela are, drink a Coke and share in their good times. Want to look as smart as they do, get some Emerald suits and you too can look this sharp. Want a great-tasting crab meal, eat at the Mahela and Kumar's restaurant, the Ministry of Crab, and wear the same bibs they wear.

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After taking a break from playing drives so good they make you feel like you've just stroked an angora rabbit wearing a velvet glove, Jayawardene batted for lunch. England decided to try one more time at banging away with Plunkett around the wicket. This time Jayawardene was in lunch mode and he just didn't look right. One sprung up at him, another jagged back, and just for a second he looked rattled. Like the game had been sped up to the pace everyone else had to play it at.

Sangakkara wandered down the wicket slowly, had a quick word, and wandered back. Jayawardene played the next two balls like they were throw downs in the nets. Sangakkara waited for him at the non-striker's end, then they walked off together.

---

The cricket public perception of the two is often quite clear. Jayawardene is seen as the cherub-faced batting wizard, often smiling and happy to be doing what he does. Sangakkara is seen as a modern-day cricket intellectual of impeccable morals who will one day be the spirit of cricket's professor emeritus.

It's not really true; Jayawardene can get as angry as Ricky Ponting on a bad day. And it's quick, Hulk quick, often reacting with anger before he has even fully grasped what has happened. The cherub face is replaced with this snarling beast. Yelling is done, handshakes are ignored, and he lets everyone in the area know exactly how he feels.

Sangakkara is so smart and eloquent that he has managed to cultivate a statesman role when, in truth, he is a hard-ass, son-of-a-bitch cricketer who would be just as likely to psychologically destroy you as talk about the great cultural mix in world cricket. Recently he tricked Ahmed Shehzad into thinking a throw was coming in so he could make Shehzad dive to save himself. In actual fact the throw was miles away. Shehzad hurt himself, Sangakkara laughed. His sledging of Shaun Pollock at the 2003 World Cup is still one of the greatest monologues recorded from a pitch. And perhaps even better than his spirit of cricket lecture.

The cherub-and-gentleman vibe is nowhere near accurate and actually sells them short of what they really are: fierce, determined, passionate cricketers who want to win.

---

The next over after Kumar's hundred, Mahela brings up his fifty. They meet mid-pitch and give each other an emotional soul-brother handshake.

Mahela Jayawardene has made a Test half-century. Kumar Sangakkara is happy for him.

Jarrod Kimber was 50% of the Two Chucks, and is the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on June 16, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    Good read as always! "...Mahela can get as angry as Ricky" .. "...snarling beast..." Sounds like a man who knows him(Mahela) inside out...

    Have seen Mahela upset/animated in dresssing rooms( in TV of course).We all know how Ricky and Aussies play to win...But u cant compare Ricky and Mahela...can you?(fierce,passionate,determined to win applies to Ricky as well right? )

  • anver777 on June 16, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    May this friendship lives on forever... & also its a good example to young emerging cricketers allover & wish they'll follow the same in their lives !!!! BONDING IN SRI LANKAN WAY !!!!!

  • on June 16, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    Jarrod Kimber has done a most revealing and colorful study on two great legends of modern world cricket. No doubt he is a fan and follower of both Snaga and Mahels that he is able to peep into these great characters in such passionate manner.

  • on June 16, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    Great article along with humour which made interesting reading. Enjoyed it

  • RuwanFer on June 15, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    Nice article. "The cricket public perception of the two is often quite clear.. but It's not really true". Haha.. I very much agree with that one.

  • Urajapakse on June 15, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Thanks Mr. Kimber. Very nicely written.

    Two all time greats, One is an artist, other one is a real butcher, when batting. ( Just kidding Sanga, those were your own words compered to Mahela' s batting)

    But Roy Dias surpasses all, anyway. Ask Arjuna, Sunil (Gavaskar) & Sir Viv

  • piechucker31 on June 15, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    I am an England fan and very happy to see these two wonderful batsmen getting centuries at Lords. Greatness sometimes transcends patriotic and parochial considerations and Mahela and Sanga are true greats of the modern game, and Sanga in particular verging on all time great. This is the sort of reflective and nuanced tribute that they deserve.

  • Marby on June 15, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    These two are not just Lanka greats...They are greats of the game full stop. As a kiwi Fan I love how these two have been the backbone of a team that keeps the supposed top 3 in check and as often as not makes them look ordinary.

  • on June 15, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    GREAT analogy done. Wonderful article

  • on June 15, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    These two legends are simply brilliant and they are the pillars of srilankan team.

  • on June 16, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    Good read as always! "...Mahela can get as angry as Ricky" .. "...snarling beast..." Sounds like a man who knows him(Mahela) inside out...

    Have seen Mahela upset/animated in dresssing rooms( in TV of course).We all know how Ricky and Aussies play to win...But u cant compare Ricky and Mahela...can you?(fierce,passionate,determined to win applies to Ricky as well right? )

  • anver777 on June 16, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    May this friendship lives on forever... & also its a good example to young emerging cricketers allover & wish they'll follow the same in their lives !!!! BONDING IN SRI LANKAN WAY !!!!!

  • on June 16, 2014, 7:28 GMT

    Jarrod Kimber has done a most revealing and colorful study on two great legends of modern world cricket. No doubt he is a fan and follower of both Snaga and Mahels that he is able to peep into these great characters in such passionate manner.

  • on June 16, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    Great article along with humour which made interesting reading. Enjoyed it

  • RuwanFer on June 15, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    Nice article. "The cricket public perception of the two is often quite clear.. but It's not really true". Haha.. I very much agree with that one.

  • Urajapakse on June 15, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Thanks Mr. Kimber. Very nicely written.

    Two all time greats, One is an artist, other one is a real butcher, when batting. ( Just kidding Sanga, those were your own words compered to Mahela' s batting)

    But Roy Dias surpasses all, anyway. Ask Arjuna, Sunil (Gavaskar) & Sir Viv

  • piechucker31 on June 15, 2014, 12:41 GMT

    I am an England fan and very happy to see these two wonderful batsmen getting centuries at Lords. Greatness sometimes transcends patriotic and parochial considerations and Mahela and Sanga are true greats of the modern game, and Sanga in particular verging on all time great. This is the sort of reflective and nuanced tribute that they deserve.

  • Marby on June 15, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    These two are not just Lanka greats...They are greats of the game full stop. As a kiwi Fan I love how these two have been the backbone of a team that keeps the supposed top 3 in check and as often as not makes them look ordinary.

  • on June 15, 2014, 9:48 GMT

    GREAT analogy done. Wonderful article

  • on June 15, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    These two legends are simply brilliant and they are the pillars of srilankan team.

  • on June 15, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    Nice article Jarrod, Your reports and views are a "not" out of the box type. It gives a different angle to the fans.

  • on June 15, 2014, 6:01 GMT

    These two legends will sit there as the all time greats from Lanka! Well done Sanga and Mahela!

  • RoshJ on June 15, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    Great article...oh Maiya and Sanga....what legends!

  • on June 15, 2014, 4:20 GMT

    too goo jarrod. Thanks for a great article. You have captured everything here. Love the bit where you incorporate snagas sledging and mental disintigration ability. All in all a brilliant article mate. Cheers from a die hard sri lankan

  • ChandraPrince on June 15, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    Jarrod: I loved the way you captured the sense and essence of their existence. Thank you with all my heart!

  • on June 15, 2014, 2:34 GMT

    A superb article abt two superb cricketers

  • bjcm12 on June 15, 2014, 0:59 GMT

    A very nice article Jarrod. We Sri Lankans are very proud of Sanga and Mahela. We will feel a great loss when they go from the game. I think they were the best pair, best mates Sri Lanka cricket ever had.

  • on June 15, 2014, 0:24 GMT

    Two great batsmen and seemingly two great guys. Long may they reign!

  • on June 14, 2014, 23:47 GMT

    Beautifully written article! True, these two friends have become international statesmen, and have done Sri Lanka proud. Wish them the best of luck.

  • rizwan1981 on June 14, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    fantastic article - yes , Mahela was a schoolboy prodigy at Nalanda whereas Sangakkara was a late developer - Sangakkara's first class record was terrible when he first played for Sri Lanka - But that shrewd judge of talent and charcter , Dev Whatmore prompted Sangakkara and installed him as the wicket keeper .

    Through sheer hard work , the intense Sangakkara improved and now boasts of an average of 58 . Mahela , the more skilled and talented batsman was more laid back ( like Gower ) and preferred to be innovative .

    Its a matter of record that in ODI , the ONLY player to have a century in a world cup semi-final and final is Mahela . He is also a terrific slipper who will in all probability hold the record for # of catches in tests and ODI

  • Herath-UK on June 14, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    Hi Jarrod you forgot to enter that he got a century in an ODI too at the Lords ,a double by Sanga,how many of those other greats got a double,could you mention.

  • on June 14, 2014, 20:19 GMT

    I was at Lords today, watched the innings, pure class!

  • on June 14, 2014, 20:10 GMT

    Great article @ enjoyed every single word !

  • on June 14, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    Wow Jarrod! This is so well written! This sorta shows why we love our cricket! Every feeling, emotion these guys feel in the field, we feel it here back at home! That's how connected we are with our Cricket and our Cricketers! Cheers.

  • himmat on June 14, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    I feel SL Cricket will be in ruins once these two mainstay players retire.....!!!

  • Black_Rider on June 14, 2014, 19:50 GMT

    Thank You Jarrod.... Awesome article.... #Bromance....

  • on June 14, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    simply awesome

  • on June 14, 2014, 19:32 GMT

    Fantastic article, good job Jarrod!

  • on June 14, 2014, 19:22 GMT

    most appealing one to me is "he is a hard-ass, son-of-a-bitch cricketer who would be just as likely to psychologically destroy you as talk about the great cultural mix in world cricket" never felt better.

  • shockValue on June 14, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    Great article. Enjoyed reading it. Mahela- more talented. Kumar- More hardworking Mahela- better leader Kumar- better batsmen Mahela Kumar- modern day greats

  • John_Raj_Mohammad_Singh on June 14, 2014, 19:14 GMT

    This is adorable! As an Indian, I have a lot of respect for these two and love watching them play. I really really wish I could say Sri Lanka's future is in safe hands but unfortunately that's not the case. This team is going to crash and burn once these two depart.

  • on June 14, 2014, 18:43 GMT

    Very nice article......Well done. .

  • ilovetests on June 14, 2014, 18:19 GMT

    Congrats to two great players. The trouble is that scoring runs against THIS England attack (once 2nd to only South Africa, now probably only 5th best in the world) could be seen as minnow bashing

  • on June 14, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    Cricket history are passing more than two century but the Cricket world never seen like this friends and brotherhood and they never see anymore .. Cricket World have to learn from Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, that is how to build the BROTHERHOOD in Cricket field and apart from Cricket,,,

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  • on June 14, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    Cricket history are passing more than two century but the Cricket world never seen like this friends and brotherhood and they never see anymore .. Cricket World have to learn from Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena, that is how to build the BROTHERHOOD in Cricket field and apart from Cricket,,,

  • ilovetests on June 14, 2014, 18:19 GMT

    Congrats to two great players. The trouble is that scoring runs against THIS England attack (once 2nd to only South Africa, now probably only 5th best in the world) could be seen as minnow bashing

  • on June 14, 2014, 18:43 GMT

    Very nice article......Well done. .

  • John_Raj_Mohammad_Singh on June 14, 2014, 19:14 GMT

    This is adorable! As an Indian, I have a lot of respect for these two and love watching them play. I really really wish I could say Sri Lanka's future is in safe hands but unfortunately that's not the case. This team is going to crash and burn once these two depart.

  • shockValue on June 14, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    Great article. Enjoyed reading it. Mahela- more talented. Kumar- More hardworking Mahela- better leader Kumar- better batsmen Mahela Kumar- modern day greats

  • on June 14, 2014, 19:22 GMT

    most appealing one to me is "he is a hard-ass, son-of-a-bitch cricketer who would be just as likely to psychologically destroy you as talk about the great cultural mix in world cricket" never felt better.

  • on June 14, 2014, 19:32 GMT

    Fantastic article, good job Jarrod!

  • on June 14, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    simply awesome

  • Black_Rider on June 14, 2014, 19:50 GMT

    Thank You Jarrod.... Awesome article.... #Bromance....

  • himmat on June 14, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    I feel SL Cricket will be in ruins once these two mainstay players retire.....!!!