'The Kumar' at No 3 approaches Bradman style with effortless 152
Wednesday 05 December 2007
There is a word invariably used to describe international batsmen who find themselves in rich veins of form. It is not a real word but it has the necessary resonance in trying to capture outstanding achievement.
In the case of Kumar Sangakkara it is also the only one that will do. He is truly being Bradmanesque. Only Don Bradman has scored more runs in six successive innings than Sangakkara, only Bradman has scored more runs in 14.
Those sequences are important because the first embraces the period in which Sangakkara has compiled innings of 150 or more in each of the past four matches (his other scores in them were 57 and 92). Not even the Don did that.
They might have to start calling the Sri Lankan batsman "the Kumar" at this rate to denote that there is only one. The run of 14 innings in nine matches coincides with his decision not to keep wicket in Test matches anymore.
"Batting at three and keeping wicket, especially in the subcontinent is a bit of an ask," he said. "It's a job I've been very happy to do but maybe with that bit of fatigue going out of my game and being a lot fresher to go in and bat it probably has a lot do with it."
Sangakkara's hundred on this his home ground (like Murali he is a Kandy boy) looked to be inevitable from the moment he came in, as it had in the first innings when he drove high to point on 92. The explanation for that was a perhaps simple, human failing. England was the only remaining Test nation against which he had failed to score a century and he was desperate to rectify the omission.
In the nineties again yesterday he was all over the place. His footwork failed him utterly and had he been smoking a fag you could have mistaken him for Freddie Frinton, the old music hall comic doing his drunk's act.
His mind was scrambled. He must have remembered the first innings and that of six years ago at Kandy when he made 95 and was out to a reckless shot. On 98, he edged to slip. It was a straightforward chance. Ian Bell shelled it. The Kumar breathed again.
"It doesn't matter how many hundreds you score, it was my first against England," he said. "I think that was in my mind to get this behind me. Probably the first hundred you score against anyone you do get a bit nervous."
None of this has been achieved without hard work. Another thing he shares with Bradman is the capacity for work, work and more work.
"I don't think it's been a sudden change," he said. "It's just been a lot of hard work in training. My whole game hinges on how well I prepare. As soon as your team-mates see you working hard at training they tend to trust you a lot more.
"Even if you make a mistake from time to time they know you have prepared as well as you can to do the best job. So I think it builds up a lot of trust between the players when everyone works as hard as they can. It's an ongoing process, so that when I go into bat I know as I'm ready as I can be."
As the England coach, Peter Moores, observed, Sangakkara will be a challenge for the tourists as the series goes on. Like Bradman was a challenge, presumably.
"I think four bowlers is enough but you've just got to bowl well," he said. In Sangakkara's form, 11 bowlers would be insufficient.
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