Mark Nicholas
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Former Hampshire batsman; host of Channel Nine's cricket coverage

England v Sri Lanka, 1st Investec Test, Lord's, 5th day

Sangakkara a maestro in convoluted drama

In a match to highlight all that is great about Test cricket Kumar Sangakarra showed his class and without him Sri Lanka were done for

Mark Nicholas at Lord's

June 16, 2014

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A

Kumar Sangakkara passed 50 for the second time in the match, England v Sri Lanka, 1st Investec Test, Lord's, 5th day, June 16, 2014
Without Kumar Sangakkara in this Test, Sri Lanka were done for © Getty Images

Here are the facts. Five good days at Lord's finished in a stalemate. That is the nature of the Test match beast. There are more results these days than there ever used to be primarily because batsmen look to play more shots and therefore make more mistakes. Had England had the common sense to pick a specialist spinner, even one of county standard, the missing wicket would probably have been found. It is very difficult to play for five days without that variation. The chosen ones gave their captain every ounce of themselves but the match summary records their efforts as worthless.

Yes, those are the facts. What cannot be so easily explained is the almost unbearable tension that accompanied this stalemate. What absolutely must be explained is that Test cricket is a unique and irresistible thing. It is many, many games within a game. Yes, the moderns tend to bat as if catching a train. Their genius on the final day at Lord's was to bat as if waiting for Godot. Test cricket is a convoluted emotional drama that tells us things about the people who play it in a way no other sport possibly can. How can one contest last for five full days and come down to the very last ball bowled without providing a winner? How can the protagonists deal with that, never mind the audience? It is plainly ridiculous and all the more wonderful for it.

The two teams are well matched, neither being from the top drawer but still containing players who have something special. First among them is Kumar Sangakkara and without him in this game Sri Lanka were done for. His career record when chosen not as the wicketkeeper is remarkable and second only to Sir Donald Bradman's. In those 75 matches, he had scored 8242 runs at the stratospheric average of 70.44. There are nine double hundreds in those figures, again only Bradman with 12 has made more while Brian Lara with nine is a peer. Notwithstanding the fact that he has plundered both Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the time has come to include Sri Lanka's finest batsman in the pantheon of an age that includes Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and Ricky Ponting.

Indeed, so fast did Gary Ballance learn from Sangakkara that signs of the Sri Lankan maestro were in his own superb hundred. The unhurried construction of the innings, the relaxed shoulders and hands in defence, the freed spirit in the strokeplay and then, finally, the joyous expression at the achievement. The next thing Ballance can study is the ability to start each innings as if it were the most important of his life. Sangakkara's pride, both in his own performance and in his country at large, is an irresistible motivation to those around him. He plays the game as if he owes it to his people.

But even Sangakkara gets out. That's the thing. You might be the best ever, Bradman, but you still cannot make 4 when you need it. It required canny thinking for James Anderson to finally get the better of Sangakkara yesterday afternoon but it took more than four hours to do so. It was the wicket that finally opened the door for England, a door they could not quite slam shut in Sri Lanka's face.

Experts in the media centre went back in time and could not remember a surface at Lord's that had deteriorated so little. Even the groundsman, Mick Hunt, was perplexed

Both Anderson and Stuart Broad are in a merry band of five who have taken 50 wickets at Lord's. Sir Ian Botham tops the list, a tad ahead of Anderson. Behind them, but in fewer matches, is Fred Trueman. Then, on exactly 50, is Stuart Broad. The best record belongs to Bob Willis, who in nine games at Lord's took 47 wickets at 18.76 each.

During the first innings Anderson bowled a little short, as he has done for a while now. It is as if he is protecting his stats, an idea lost on the young but which creeps up on those with miles in their legs. But in the second, he sprinted in to bowl a full length and as the ball aged so his wizardry with reverse swing began to make Sri Lankan batsmen disappear. Broad helped wizard away nine of them but the tenth was beyond even the wizards.

By the end the pitch had beaten them all - which one suspects would have included those wizards Botham, Trueman and Willis had they been there. The experts in the media centre went back in time and could not remember a surface at Lord's that had deteriorated so little. Even the groundsman, Mick Hunt, was perplexed. Maybe pitches are like us, he mused, as they get older they lose something of their zest for life. Or maybe, a spinner among English ranks would have changed the perception.

In the search for a balance between bat and ball, groundsman need support if a pitch that offers help to the bowler leads to an early finish. While we all promote the primacy of Test match cricket we must relate to the needs of a modern audience who don't get much of a buzz from a five day draw. Or we must ask them all to Lord's for a last afternoon like this one. Selectors should create balanced teams, not a pack of seamers who become increasingly irrelevant as the game moves through its various stages.

Hang on a minute please. We have time for a memo to N Srinivasan, Chairman of ICC and Alastair Cook, Captain of England (cc W Edwards, G Clarke).

The players need a rocket for the over rates. The average for the first three innings of this match was below 13 over an hour and that is with numerous allowances. The required rate is 15, thus each day's play not only went the maximum half an hour beyond the scheduled close but finished with supposedly mandatory overs not bowled at all. This cheats the public and allows a struggling bowling side unfair respite. The time has come to add runs to the financial penalties that the well paid modern player could not care less about. A cost of ten per over would sharpen them up, alongside an increase in fines that must surely apply to every player. Notably, England bowled at almost two overs per hour faster on the final day when the smell of victory was in the air.

The mid-session drinks break is unnecessary and takes longer than it should. This is a game that breaks for lunch and tea for goodness sake, they don't need elevenses too! Glove changes, unscheduled drinks, the movement of sight screens, tardy captains and a general lack of urgency and ambition are combining to irritate the spectator and take a sense of purpose out of the spectacle. As we move into the guts of the 21st century, Test cricket has enough to worry about without this issue of over rates encouraging the critics to use it as ballast in the argument against the game's long term sustainability.

This is a game that breaks for lunch and tea, they don't need elevenses too! Glove changes, unscheduled drinks, the movement of sight screens, tardy captains and a general lack of urgency are combining to take a sense of purpose out of the spectacle

But forget all that for a minute and consider this. England failed to complete 13 of their allotted overs for the game. Such tardiness surely cost them the match. Over rates damn well matter.

While having a grumble, there remains nothing, nothing, that gets everyone going like the television replay of low catches. Matt Prior took a perfectly clean catch to dismiss Kaushal Silva in the first innings but one replay angle - out of about five incidentally - suggested the ball may have bounced. This replay is a magnified two-dimensional image, foreshortened by the camera lens. It flattens the image, suggesting that grass, glove, shadow and ball are as one. It is utterly misleading and mainly wrong. Not one former cricketer canvassed thought the ball bounced but Prior is immediately mistrusted for claiming the catch because the decision was given against him.

There is much talk of the spirit of the game and, in this case, television technology is working against it. It is a great pity that the captains of each Test playing nation cannot find a common moral ground or that the umpires in the middle cannot back their judgement without fear of the same recrimination from technology. If a player deliberately cheats by claiming a catch he knows has not carried, those same replays will soon expose him. Almost anything is better than the present situation, which all too often has everyone muttering their disapproval.

Memo ends.

A final word for Angelo Mathews, whose embattled fortnight ended with a match-saving vigil while England threw the kitchen sink at him. The Mankad incident brought the name of the Sri Lankan captain into the public consciousness. Suddenly your Mum knew who he was and reacted with shock when you said he had done the right thing at Edgbaston. "But it wasn't a very nice thing to do, was it dear?" "Well, I think I would have done the same Mum." "Good heavens!"

Mathews had an intelligent answer to the question "Would you do the same again?" He said "I hope not, but if the batsman keeps stealing an advantage and we warn him about it, what else are we to do?" By applying the Laws of the game the Sri Lankan captain was accused of breaking the Spirit of Cricket. That cannot be.

Since then, Mathews has ushered his team to victory in the deciding one day international between the teams, made a splendid hundred in the first innings of the Lord's Test and, in the second, gone most of the distance in ensuring the safety of his team in the same match. He is a formidable man. Charming to meet, granite to play against.

I could go on but Headingley is around the corner and plenty will go off there as they say in Yorkshire. All hail the 22 Lord's cricketers of the past five days. The game lives on through your performances. Just bowl your overs faster.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 20, 2014, 5:41 GMT)

@cric1965 Looks like you are more interested in Sanga scoring runs in SC than outside!!!! It's not pressure that got to sachin, it's aging sachin who struggled to score runs in his last 2yrs or so...We'll see what sanga does in the next 3-4yrs & that will tell us whether he belongs to the TOP 10 batsmen or not!!!

Posted by Sexysteven on (June 20, 2014, 4:46 GMT)

I love watching sanga bat to abit like bell easy on the eye the stats might say sanga is better in Asia and his technique suggests he should be good enough worldwide even if he isn't considered up there with tendulkar n co we all have our favourites sanga bell kallis chanderpaul devilliers R my favourite players to watch bat

Posted by DeathHawk on (June 19, 2014, 13:52 GMT)

As a Sri Lankan I do not want to comment on whether Sangakkara is the best batsman after Bradman. To be honest there are too many people outside of Sri Lanka who would disagree and with good reason. However, I think he is a wonderful batsman who has brought a lot to the game and Sri Lankan fans. My only wish is that Sanga would get the opportunity to play at least 3 more tests each in Australia and South Africa. It would give him an opportunity to improve on his work in these conditions and also maybe someday be considered among the greatest to play the game. All the best to you Sanga!!!

Posted by cric1965 on (June 19, 2014, 9:25 GMT)

@ITJOBSUCKS Gloveless Sanga,s stats cannot be compare with pressure. If you are a world class player you should be able to cope pressure. Sachin has failed miserably in his last years of his carrier. His average drops from 57 to 53 due to that. He wants to play 200 tests . Actually he was not suitable for a team place in his last years. That knows every body including selectors. Sanga should be compare with Kallis who has test average 55. He is a better player than Sachin even statistically,

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 19, 2014, 3:50 GMT)

BTW, Sanga has scored ONLY 6 100's outside sub-continent out of 36 100's....Virat Kohli who started his "Test" career 3-4 yrs ago has already scored 3 100's abroad (AUS,SA & NZ) & would've been 4 had he not got out on 98 v/s SA...I wouldn't be surprised by the end of this yr if kohli were to overtake Sanga's 100 outside SC!!!!

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 19, 2014, 3:31 GMT)

@cric1965 If you consider gloveless sanga, then i'll have to consider the pressure of 1 billion on SRT every time he walked to bat whereas Sanga didn't have any pressure of performing in front of 1 billion........BTW, you are still comparing Oranges with Apples....Your comparison clearly shows that Sanga is good ONLY in ASIA & if you take out that one substantial innings against AUS(192), his record would be poor in AUS also!!!! So, basically you've to score tons of runs in Srilanka to be named as the best batsman in the world rt ?

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 19, 2014, 3:18 GMT)

@ rizwan1981 I think you are the first person in the world to say Sachin didn't entertain...Just ask Mcgrath,Warne, Donald, Walsh, Ambrose, Wasim, Waqar, Steyn, Pollock who was the best batsman they bowled to ? I would be gobsmacked even if one of them were to say "Sanga"!!!! Since Australia has dominated cricket in the last 2 decades followed by SA(Only in Test matches), you've to judge the batsman what they have done against the best bowling attacks (not against PAK which has performed very poorly esp abroad & has been a avg team esp in the last decade)....SRT has 11 100's(AUS) & 7(SA), Lara has 9 100's(AUS) & 4(SA) while the GREAT Sanga has only 1 100(AUS) & 3 100's(SA)....

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 19, 2014, 3:01 GMT)

@Stel En Go through maruthudelft's comment, you will understand!!! There are 2 sets of batsmen i believe in the last generation we saw SRT, Lara & the rest....TheTrue test of a batsman is measured by his numbers esp in abroad & that's where Sanga has failed miserably in SA,ENG & IND!!! Moreover Sanga doesn't place himself alongside Sachin & lara as he has said zillion times that he accumulated runs whereas SRT & Lara dominated attacks.....In fact Dravid & Laxman have got better overseas record than Sanga which clearly tells where Sanga sits in the list!!!

Posted by cric1965 on (June 19, 2014, 1:58 GMT)

@ITJOBSUCKS-Gloveless Sanga,s averages are higher than Sachin in Australia 77 to 53, NZ-134 to 49, Zimbabwe-140 to 40,Pakistan 60 to 40, Sri Lanka 77 to 67. Averages difference range is 10 to 100

Sachin,s averages are higher than Sangakkara in England 54 to 49, SA 46 TO 37, West Indies 47 TO 42, Bangladesh 136 to 95, India 52 to 48. Averages difference range is 5 to 41

That way we can compare apple with apples.

Posted by Kotuwegogoda on (June 18, 2014, 22:19 GMT)

Mark, your's is a wonderful présentation of facts. Enjoyed every bit of réading and comparison alongside some of thé gréât players.

Posted by rizwan1981 on (June 18, 2014, 20:19 GMT)


TENDULKAR's Average against Bangladesh is 137 and against Zimbabwe its 76 .Sachin's average against Pakistan was 42 . Seems like the pressure got to the little master .

There is also one difference between Sanga and Sachin - Sanga is # 3 whereas Sachin never batted higher than 4 in tests . This is why , I would rate Gavaskar above even Sangakkara and Sachin.

Posted by rizwan1981 on (June 18, 2014, 20:08 GMT)


LARA was the entertainer and in comparison TENDULKAR is workman-like. I agree Sangakkara is not eye-catching - Personally , as a Sri Lankan , I prefer ARAVINDA or Mahela . Roy Dias was not too shabby either ( possesses the most elegant cover drive in the world)

No one can be compared to LARA - David Gower , Mark Waugh , VVS Laxman and Vishy are the closest to the south paw from West Indies.

Posted by MaruthuDelft on (June 18, 2014, 17:10 GMT)

But Sangakara never excites like Lara and Tendulkar. Sanga may be placed along with Ponting and Kallis the hardworking cricketers. Lara and Tendulkar have the x factor; they are born champions.

Posted by Indians-love-flattracks on (June 18, 2014, 13:59 GMT)

Sanga averages almost 80 against Pakistan, who have produced some of the best fast bowlers in the world, While sachin averages a paltry 40 against their biggest rival.

Sanga also has an astonishing average of 60 in Australia and 66 and NewZealand, tell me how he's a flat track bully again????

Posted by   on (June 18, 2014, 12:48 GMT)

Also I checked Tendilkar has an average of 136 against Bangladesh. He also benefitted playing against Bangladesh.

Posted by   on (June 18, 2014, 12:35 GMT)

To ITJOBSUCKS......we can come up with all type of logic to say Sachin better than Sanga. But Gloveless Sanga averages 70!! Sanga is a phenomina. This guy is way ahead of Lara and Sachin when come to not getting out. He is not the most stylish. But 5 points ahead of Sachin. Again we have to wait and see what average he would have when he retire. If Sanga had not kept wickets he would have had an average around 65. I think its time to call spade a spade and say Sachin and Lara are no. 2 and 3.

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 18, 2014, 11:10 GMT)

@Stel En Couple of tours to BAN wouldn't do any bad to Sanga...rt ?? In fact out of his last 6 100's, 5 have come against BANGLADESH in ONLY 4 matches!!!! SRT's avg came down from high 55 to 53.5 during the last 2yrs of his career!!! Both SRT & LARA dominated bowling attacks unlike Sanga who accumulated runs!!!!!

Posted by ladycricfan on (June 18, 2014, 11:02 GMT)

Prior's catch clearly bounced. The ball went into his gloves on the way up after the bounce. All the TV images we see are in two dimension. That doesn't mean we are seeing distorted pictures of a game played. As they say "cameras don't lie". For very close calls, batsmen should always get the benefit.

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 18, 2014, 10:55 GMT)

@Stel En Couple of tours to BAN wouldn't do any bad to Sanga...rt ?? In fact out of his last 6 100's, 5 have come against BANGLADESH in ONLY 4 matches!!!! SRT's avg came down from high 55 to 53.5 during the last 2yrs of his career!!! Both SRT & LARA dominated bowling attacks unlike Sanga who accumulated runs on flat srilnakan pitches!!!

Posted by   on (June 18, 2014, 10:39 GMT)

I dont think we can consider Sachin any better than Sanga because Sachin has a very low average of 53. compared to Sanga's 58. Also gloveless Sanga maintains 70.45. But only caveat that Sanga has is what would be his average when he retire? Will the wheels come off as in the case of Ponting? IF Sanga maintains 58 average when he retires, low averaged players like Lara and Sachin will be irrelevant. Again that is a big "IF".

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 18, 2014, 10:36 GMT)

@Pakeeran Siriratnam What about Sanga's poor record in SA(avg 35) & Ind(avg 36) ?? Not many great batsmen have such poor record in more than 1 country!!! In fact SRT has averaged more than 40 in all contries & is the ONLY batsman to do so...Sanga's average looks great b'coz he has played lot of matches on flat sub-continent pitches which has naturally inflated his numbers!!

Posted by   on (June 18, 2014, 8:33 GMT)

People, of course Sachin has more 100s, he has played so many more matches. Sanga's 100's do not define him. He has maintained a very good average almost all over the world. His worst was in Eng, and he has largely reversed that too. I am not saying he's better than Sachin, but I am saying he is definitely in the same league as the modern day greats. Mahela is not, as he has been mainly an Asian superstar. Sanga has been a brilliant cricketer world wide and a wonderful ambassador for the game. Most cricket pundits have said so, and his numbers prove it, so why waste time arguing with those who think they know better?

Posted by   on (June 18, 2014, 8:26 GMT)

People who criticize Sangakkara never talks about amount of matches that he played. What Sangakkara need is more test matches. Well, now it's too late though. For all these years he only played 124 test matches. and very less away form sub continent compare to Lara, Sachin and Viv. I don't think it's fair to call him only a biased performer. Considering that he kept wickets most of his career. Well, end of the day people see what they wants to see.

Posted by ITJOBSUCKS on (June 18, 2014, 8:21 GMT)

@cric1965 When you compare stats make sure that you compare apples with apples not with oranges!!! Sanga has poor record in SA, ENG & INDIA even though he has scored 100's in above mentioned countries!!! In fact Sanga has scored only 6 100's in ENG,SA,AUS, WI & NZ & if you take out that 192(only 1 innings of real substance), his record would be very poor in AUS also whereas Sachin has 18 100's outside sub-continent(excl ZIM) & Lara has 16 100's in AUS,ENG,NZ, SA, SL & PAK!!

Posted by dunger.bob on (June 18, 2014, 7:26 GMT)

@ Pcsr Ratnayake : Sobering stuff. Here's something else to think about though. Australia has only 3 million more than you with 23Mil people. We've done Ok as well for a small country nobody cares about.

Posted by cric1965 on (June 18, 2014, 6:59 GMT)

out side Asia, Sachin scored 6247@50.37 Average and inside ASIA 9674 @56.24., 18 centuries.

While Sanga as a specialist batsman out side Asia scored 2068@60.82 average 7 centuries and Inside Asia 6174 @74.38 average.

Statistically can we compare him with modern day greats, Sachin,Kallis, Lara, or Ponting

At last we talk about Bradman,s statistics not how he batted those days.

Will statistics matter or not?

Posted by   on (June 18, 2014, 5:01 GMT)

Sanga is the best TEST batsmen after Brahman and no doubt about that, I know cuz SRI LANKA is a small country people from other various big countries don't consider SL as a good cricketing nation, but whatever u guys say SANGA is the GREATEST TEST BATSMEN IN MODERN CRICKET AND ONLY SECOND TO BRADMEN IN ALL TIME LIST , that's for sure. See Sri Lanka is a small country with about 20 million people, still we are the BEST LIMITED OVER CRICKETING NATION SINCE 2007 (in 7 world tournaments we became FINALISTS IN 5 times and in other 2 times we came to semi final and quarter final ) isn't these stats prove to say we are ATLEAST SECOND BEST TO INDIA, THINK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (June 18, 2014, 4:01 GMT)

Give a 5 test match series to Sanga if you dare. In any country of course, then we'll see who is the greatest. Although I also agree Bradman is probably the best. I will not be so sure that he will survive in Galle against Murali. May be he would, but it is a question which we can never know the answer to. No matter how hard people try to ignore it, he had the advantage of being familiar with the conditions he played unlike the modern greats like Sanga, Sachin, Lara.

Posted by SLanka350 on (June 18, 2014, 3:43 GMT)

@ VipinGangwar. Please check Sanga's averages as a specialist batsman. He averages 70.44 in 75 games. Also, his averages as a specialist batsman in Aus, Eng, Ind, SAF, NZ are 77.28, 49, 48.20, 134.00, 37.20, respectively. His only bad average is against SAF in SAF. When he is not keeping wickets in tests, he is definitely up there with Sachin, Lara, and others as a batsman. Source: cricinfo.

Posted by cric1965 on (June 18, 2014, 2:40 GMT)

Sangakkara started his test carrier as a wicket keeper batsman.He played 33 test matches, totally, out side Asia and middle east. Out of that only 20 matches he played as a specialist batsman. Those 20 matches , 37 innings , 3 not out scored 2068 runs at average of 60.82, including 7 centuries. He scored 2 centuries against England in 8 innings @average 49,against Australia and New Zealand 3 centuries @average of 89.88, South Africa ,2 centuries @average 54.41.

Comparing Sachin played 77 matches out side Asia, scored 6247 runs in 135 innings@46.27 average with 18 centuries. Sachin average in Australia and NZ -51.98, 8 centuries,ENG-54.31, 4 centuries,WI-47.69 one centyry,SA-45.19, 5 centuries. Even In Asia Sanga-55 matches,6174 runs@ 74.38,29 centuries Sachin in Asia-123 matches,9674 runs,@56.24, 33 centuries Then comparison of outside sub continent average 60.82 with 46.27 of Sachin. Considering facts is Sanga as a specialist Batsman or Sachin second to Bradman only?

Posted by VipinGangwar on (June 17, 2014, 21:52 GMT)

for all the Sangakara lovers, look at this first and the compare him with the like os Sachin , Lara, Ponting and Kallis.

Kumar Sangakkara's Test career Overall At home v B'desh & Zim In Aus, SA, Eng Period Tests Average Tests Ave Tests Average Tests Average Till Dec 2003 33 46.65 22 46.73 5 64.00 8 33.13 2004-2008 44 60.57 22 71.46 10 96.90 6 51.83 sinceJan 2009 45 63.31 23 69.97 5 111.00 8 34.40 Career 122 58.07 67 63.27 20 94.08 22 38.92

142, 105, 139, 55, 75, 319, 105 - Guess it? It is not a match's series. These are the runs scored by Sang against Bangladesh in last 7 innings. Now you would have known the reason of 58.55.

Posted by VipinGangwar on (June 17, 2014, 21:34 GMT)

Sangakara is a good batsman and great one against minnows. Scoring a 100 at Lords will not make him greater than Sachin. look at the below stats

Subcontinent batsmen in Aus, Eng and SA Career Since 2009

Batsman Tests Average 100s/ 50s Tests Average 100s/ 50s Sachin Tendulkar 52 51.64 15/ 18 11 44.30 2/ 4 Rahul Dravid 40 45.88 8/ 12 11 38.75 3/ 1 VVS Laxman 36 40.47 4/ 13 11 25.38 0/ 4 Virender Sehwag 25 35.97 4/ 7 9 21.27 0/ 3 Inzamam-ul-Haq 29 35.78 3/ 11 - - - Mohammad Yousuf 22 38.37 4/ 6 5 27.70 0/ 2 Saeed Anwar 12 41.04 3/ 5 - - - Younis Khan 16 40.60 2/ 6 3 30.67 1/ 0 Kumar Sangakkara 22 38.92 3/ 10 8 34.40 2/ 2 Mahela Jayawardene25 31.25 3/ 5 9 22.27 0/ 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan 15 35.00 2/ 4 8 40.46 2/ 2 Thilan Samaraweera14 30.92 2/ 3 9 41.33 2/ 2

So at the bottom there are the Lankan greats and at the top there Indian greats. So no Sri Lankan batsman is equivalent to VVS, leave alone Dravid, Viru and Sachin

Posted by jameckin on (June 17, 2014, 21:08 GMT)

There is no doubt that Sangakkara is the greatest test player Srilanka has produced. However, comparing him with Tendulkar and Lara doesn't make any sense. Kallis, Dravid, Jayawardene, Ponting, Sangakkara, and Inzamam were the finest players of the past 2 decades but Tendulkar and Lara were the best of that decade.

We need to understand that it's not just the statistics, it's the sheer entertainment and class these players bring to the game. Sir Viv Richards retired with a test average of 50 so is he a lesser player than Sangakkara? The answer is 'NO'. He played in the best bowling era ever and every bowler feared him.

Sangakkara will go down as one of the finest players of his era, and arguably the best Srilanka produced. There is no room for his comparision with Tendulkar and Lara.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2014, 20:40 GMT)

Also I may add gloveless Sangakkara averages 70. But one can argue that Tendulkar bowled. Not much though. Tendulkar bowled 4240 balls for 200 matches. That 3.5 overs a match. less than 2 overs per inning.

Gloveless Sangakkara - 70.8 Gloveless Tendulkar 53.8 Difference = 17

Posted by   on (June 17, 2014, 15:26 GMT)

If Sanga maintains 58 average by the time he retires he will be the no. 2 batsman after Bradman. Moveover Sachin.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2014, 15:21 GMT)

Statistically Sangakkara is the all time number 2 batsman after Bradman. Because he is from a small island he gets less publicity.It is apparent if you check the batting records. If Sanka plays 200 matches he can easily pass Tendulkar's records. Tendulkar scored 15921 out of 200 matches at average of 53.28 and Sangka scored 11359 out of 123 matches at an average of 58.55.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2014, 15:13 GMT)

Gloveless Sachin averages 53 and Gloved Sanga averages 58. Gloveless Sanga averages 70.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2014, 11:01 GMT)

Mark as usual is pithy and to the point. No one can disagree with him. Need more overs per match from now on. But I don't agree on the adding of runs if overs fall short. You don't want a match to be decided that way. Yes the drinks break is a luxury. Get it off. Means five into three fifteen more minutes of play per day. Means another 4 overs per day minimum. Similarly even lunch break can be half an hour. But if Mark expects Srinivasan to take such decisions. Sorry, he won't. Well done Mark as usual. Can we also see you behind the mike at Leeds please?

Posted by ksquared on (June 17, 2014, 10:50 GMT)

Sri lankas bane in test cricket has always been the inability of its bowlers to take 20 wickets barring the time when Murali, Vaas and Malinga played together (they were ranked 2nd or 3rd at one point). The main reason I see is that SL don't play enough test cricket hence young bowlers fast or spin don't have the knowledge or the experience to bowl oppositions out when they are not going after you unlike in the limited over formats. As far as Sanga goes I think he is a far greater role model than Sachin or Lara on the field and off it as he is a prime example of what hard work and perseverance can accomplish even though you are not gifted with as much natural talent and anyone who listened to his Cowdrey lecture would certainly have no doubts.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2014, 10:01 GMT)

Great article particularly about the slow over rate.Sanga's achievement remarkable because the test cricket record of SriLanka is not that great compared to India & Australia.He has to carry the team most of the test matches one like at Lords and he faced quite a bit of turmoil in his distinguished carrier.Hope young SriLankan cricketers are learning from this legend.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2014, 9:57 GMT)

@cric1965. Sangakkara has scored 4 centuries , including this latest in England, outside the subcontinent and Zimbabwe in his whole career till now. Sachin Tendulkar scored 4 centuries outside the subcontinent even before he was 20. He scored dozens later on. The skewed record of Sangakkara eand Mahela Jayawrardene is the reason why these two are not spoken of in the same breath as a Sachin, Lara or a Ponting. These two are subcontinental Bradmen. Even in the subcontinent, they have scored most of their runs in Sri Lanka. Sangakkara has scored only one century in India. It

Posted by cric1965 on (June 17, 2014, 9:20 GMT)

Sangakkara scored 8242 as a batsman at 70.44.second to only Don Bradman. Then what about Sachin who scored 15921 runs at 53.73 average. what about the comparison between average 70.44 and 53.73. Is Sachin artificially inflated by media?

Posted by   on (June 17, 2014, 8:03 GMT)

Always love the way you write Mark. The 2nd paragraph is the perfect answer to why test cricket is the greatest sport ever.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (June 17, 2014, 7:59 GMT)

Lords has given us dead, lifeless pitches for the last six to seven summers. Television, these days dictates the natures of Test pitches world over and England is no exception. Add to it, the exorbitant Test match ticket prices in England, especially London, makes it impossible to prepare a sporting surface(Also, the bidding costs for hosting a Test match) which runs the risk of the Test finishing early. Nicholas being a long time television insider should know it most than others. This surface and the authorities who prepared it didn't deserve such an exciting finish !

Posted by dunger.bob on (June 17, 2014, 5:52 GMT)

I thoroughly enjoyed this match. 1200+ runs and damn near 40 wickets is a good return for 5 days play. We had some excellent batting and, at times, some beautiful bowling that took wickets in bursts. That kept both sides on their toes and in the game. .. I'm not a big fan of the draw but sometimes it's the only fair way to end it. This was one of those times.

Posted by android_user on (June 17, 2014, 5:32 GMT)

Sanga is truly the greatest batsman ever for Srilanka and the greatest modern Asian batsman after Sachin and on par with Dravid.

Posted by notimeforcricket on (June 17, 2014, 5:12 GMT)

quite right. slow over rates cost England the game. How about another solution. In tennis, there is a time limit between points and between games. I am sure they could do a simple calculation and limit the time between overs, ie if the bowler has not started his run-up within (someone would have to do the maths) 25 seconds from the previous ball (define this as when the ball is dead or in the 'keeper's gloves), there are 2 warnings followed by 4 runs to the batting team, adding to the bowler's figures. Alternatively, if the bowling team is behind on the over rate, the overs must be bowled the next morning by any member of the team nominated by the batting side with 3 fielders removed - ie if England fail to bowl 10 overs, Sri Lanka get to face Alaistair Cook or Sam Robson the next morning with 8 fielders...

Posted by TATTUs on (June 17, 2014, 5:10 GMT)

the time has come to include Sri Lanka's finest batsman in the pantheon of an age that includes Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and Ricky Ponting.


Posted by dilu.sanjay on (June 17, 2014, 4:44 GMT)

Great article sir thank you so much .excellent look at many ways

Posted by Greatest_Game on (June 17, 2014, 3:57 GMT)

"This replay is a magnified two-dimensional image, foreshortened by the camera lens. It flattens the image, suggesting that grass, glove, shadow and ball are as one."

Foreshortening is a technique used in drawing & painting. "to shorten by proportionately contracting in the direction of depth so that an illusion of projection or extension in space is obtained."

Lenses don't foreshorten. Lenses distort perspective. Extension distortion occurs with very wide angle lenses and compression distortion occurs with narrow angle, or telephoto lenses. Wide angle lenses make objects in the foreground appear to be big, or extended & those in the background to be small. Telephoto lenses do the opposite: objects in the foreground appear smaller, or compressed, & those in the background look larger.

Unfortunately, Mr. Nicholas' statement, tho well intentioned, means nothing.To critically address the issue, he should understand the subject. If the issue is discussed, it should be understood.

Posted by   on (June 17, 2014, 3:41 GMT)

Thank you Mark, great article, excellent look at many aspects involving the two teams.

Posted by android_user on (June 17, 2014, 2:09 GMT)

here's a noval idea, mark. maybe ICC should fine the umpires for not forcing the players to hurry up. they on get 5grand a game so if hit them hard, they will in turn tell the players to hurry up.

we dont need drinks any more either because every fall of wkt or drs the 13th man runs on water for players for both sides.

Posted by DarthKetan on (June 16, 2014, 23:12 GMT)

Spot on in putting Sanga in that bracket of modern batting greats....only complaint is that you did not include Dravid in that...hope it's just an oversight and not by intent. Given Sanga's stature and commitment, it was very unfortunate that SL cricket blackmailed him and put him in a spot regarding choosing sides at Champions Trophy...

Posted by KingOwl on (June 16, 2014, 21:49 GMT)

It was a great test match, no doubt. And kudos to both teams. The umpires, unfortunately, were not up to the mark, especially Paul Reiffel. I doubt whether he is good enough to be in the elite panel. Re. Angelo Mathews: "He is a formidable man. Charming to meet, granite to play against", says Mark Nocholas. That is no doubt a superlative compliment.

Posted by disco_bob on (June 16, 2014, 19:58 GMT)

This article began well but ended up becoming a tiresome rant and but for a single wicket would not have been necessary. A pair of low scores for Cook and unambitious captaincy suggests that nothing has changed in the new Moores era. This is a superb draw from SL, well done. This was the time for Cook to be bold, sieze the moment and set a tempting target in 100 overs. If Ballance can learn from Sanga surely Cook can learn from Clarke.

Posted by Crickyboy on (June 16, 2014, 19:33 GMT)

Just a beautiful piece again...

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Mark NicholasClose
Mark Nicholas A prolific and stylish middle-order batsman for Hampshire, Mark Nicholas was unlucky never to have played for England, but after captaining his county to four major trophies he made his reputation as a presenter, commentator and columnist. Named the UK Sports Presenter of the Year in 2001 and 2005 by the Royal Television Society, he has commentated all over the world, from the World Cup in the West Indies to the Indian Premier League. He now hosts the cricket coverage for Channel Nine in Australia and Channel 5 in England.

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