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 independent.co.uk/thetest

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvSpoiler alert: It has been talked about for months
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?