England v Sri Lanka: Farewell to a near-perfect pair – we won't see their like again



As the Lord's crowd enjoyed the sight of two cricket greats batting together for perhaps the last time at the ground, some might have wondered whether their farewells would hold a deeper significance for the game.

Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene know that, almost certainly, this will be their last Test tour of England. Both are as close to perfection as the Test batsman can be: judicious and elegant in their strokes, capable in all conditions and with an intuitive ability to pace an innings.

Sangakkara produced a knock as erudite as the Cowdrey Lecture he delivered here three years ago. Looking for his first Test century at Lord's, Sangakkara was aware that this was probably his last chance to remove that blemish from his record, and he did not miss a beat.

While Jayawardene was not as commanding as his partner and struggled occasionally against the short ball, he generally had the better of England's bowling before he was dismissed for 55. Their partnership, of 126 in 203 deliveries, was a delight to watch.

As sad as it will be to see them fade from view, it will be far more of a shame if they have no worthy heirs, not only in Sri Lanka, but across the world game. Perhaps that is too dramatic a prediction, but the nature of modern cricket is such that there will, logically, be fewer and fewer batsmen like Sangakkara and Jayawardene, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara.

The new stars of cricket will have grown up in the Twenty20 era, and their styles will be tailored accordingly. David Warner, the rampaging Australian, is probably the most effective opening batsman on the planet. He has a fine technique but his game is based on one plan: attack. Warner will not compromise these principles, irrespective of the conditions.

The proof can be found in his strike rate of 73.4, an extraordinary number for a Test player. Virat Kohli, of India, is able to be more circumspect but he, too, is fundamentally a dasher. Twenty20, and its various franchise-based competitions, captures the imagination of the aspiring cricketer at least as much as the five-day game.

There is every chance that young batsmen dream just as much about smashing sixes and scoring at better than a run a ball than they do about crafting a Test century in five or six hours. Not many of them will be as gifted as Warner or Kohli.

Mark Ramprakash played 52 Tests for England and was the most accomplished batsman in the English county game for many years. Now working as a batting consultant both for Middlesex and the England and Wales Cricket Board, Ramprakash has noticed a trend that worries him.

"It does concern me that a lot of young players want to whack it out of the ground," said Ramprakash. "They want to hit it not just for six, but 15 rows back and they want to play a ramp shot and a reverse sweep before they can play an on-drive.

"A lot of young players enjoy playing against the white ball in limited-overs cricket because it does nothing. It doesn't move around in the air. Then they face the red ball, which swings and seams, and all of a sudden their technique is under scrutiny.

"You are seeing a lot of young players who are excellent in one-day cricket but finding the red ball a real challenge, and I suppose that's natural.

"There are a lot of young players asking themselves whether they should just specialise in playing white ball, because if they're doing very well at it, why bother with trying to play first-class and Test cricket?"

Sangakkara and Jayawardene have been just as effective in the limited-overs game during their careers, yet both see Test cricket as the best measure of their talent. It would be a shame if their successors do not share those beliefs.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
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

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam