Captain intent on laying firm foundation

First it was Kumar, then came Mahela. Whoever reckoned Sri Lanka are a one-man team and the proposition is aired more often than Bing Crosby's greatest hit in December is dangerously misguided. Muttiah Muralitharan prospers not only because he is a great bowler but also because he is working behind large totals.

Those runs are in increasingly plentiful supply from two quarters. Kumar Sangakkara made 192 in the first Test against England in Kandy and erected the platform for victory. Here in Colombo yesterday Mahela Jayawardene performed a similar function and, although the bricks were put in place at a slightly slower rate, the effect of his adding 124 runs while batting all day presented a similarly worrying edifice for the tourists.

Jayawardene eschewed either risk or flamboyance. In his mind, Sangakkara having gone cheaply the night before, all that mattered was batting England out of the match. It was a magisterial exhibition of leading from the front.

For much of the first part of a Test career that began 10 years ago Jayawardene was maddeningly unpredictable. It was not that he often sold his wicket cheaply, but that he seemed unaware of its value. The elevation to the Sri Lankan captaincy changed him: in the 149 innings before it his average was 43.85; in the 29 since, excluding yesterday, it is 55.61.

In scoring his seventh hundred as captain (or rather crafting it painstakingly from a slow pitch refusing to grant favours to anybody lightly) he became Sri Lanka's highest runs scorer in Tests. He overtook Sanath Jayasuriya when he reached 111.

"Kumar and I know we need to take a lot of responsibility in this team because it's a time when we have a couple of youngsters," he said. "We've worked really hard to make sure we carry the team through this period. My problem is that I haven't been consistent. Batting with Kumar has helped. We complement each other, try and make big scores and have got into that habit."

When Jayawardene and Sangakkara speak it is as if they are intent on bequeathing a legacy to their team. They are not here today, gone tomorrow merchants. When they depart they want to have ensured that although their team still have places to go, they will be capable of getting there.

Not much was pretty about Jayawardene's innings yesterday. If it was fairly dull to watch at times, that was merely indicative of how far Test cricket has come in 15 years and how spoilt we all are. It no doubt helped that the SSC is his home ground every bit as much as Kandy is home to Sangakkara.

Jayawardene broke another Test record. He has now scored more runs at one ground (2,034 by close yesterday) than any other batsman, having overtaken the 2,015 Graham Gooch made at Lord's. He looked as though he was on speaking terms with every blade of grass.

What may really hurt an England side who never ceased trying is the nagging thought that they got it wrong at the toss by batting. "We have made the same mistake a couple of times as well and we had to bat really well in the second innings to get back into the match," said Jayawardene, almost teasingly.

England made more than Jayawardene expected but it looked far from enough as his occupation continued. Their bowlers, Monty Panesar apart, could hardly be faulted, but their reward was two wickets. "It was a tough day," said the England coach, Peter Moores. It promised to get tougher.

Stephen Brenkley and Angus Fraser discuss today's play at

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little