Kumar Sangakkara Adds Finishing Touch to His Record with Century at Lord's

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Kumar Sangakkara Adds Finishing Touch to His Record with Century at Lord's
Associated Press
Kumar Sangakkara added his name to the honour boards at Lord's with a century against England on Saturday.

The honour boards in the Lord's Pavilion have always had a knack for eluding some of the game's greats. If you were to scroll through the collection of exalted names inscribed in the dressing rooms, you'd fail to find Tendulkar, WarneMuralitharan, Ponting, Kallis, Lara, Ambrose, Gavaskar and Kumble, among others.

In one of cricket's curious quirks, the honour boards at the game's spiritual home have grown more notable for their absentees, seemingly oblivious to the sport's all-time lists. 

But Kumar Sangakkara will not be one of those. He will not add his illustrious name to that notable roll-call of those not present. 

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Delightfully, deservedly, almost righteously, Saturday was to be his day. Against a strong seam attack under the cloud and drizzle of the London sky and the floodlights above the stands, Sangakkara cruised to 147, the afternoon sun eventually revealing itself to shine on the esteemed great as a memorable day drew to a close. 

Fittingly, the gracious left-hander achieved the feat alongside Mahela Jayawardene—his teammate and friend who has stood alongside him since his Test debut 14 years ago.

As the Sri Lankan pair stroked their way to a third-wicket stand of 126 on Day 3 at Lord's, the inseparable veterans also moved into third position for Test runs as a partnership (6,115), surpassing the formidable Australian combination of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer—two men who shared a bond reminiscent of that belonging to Sangakkara and his trusty countryman. 

Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jaywardene have shared a special bond throughout their time in the Sri Lankan team.

Pleasingly, the 36-year-old's sought-after century was reached with typical elegance.

To England's spinners, the left-hander glided down the pitch to regularly lift the ball down the ground. Up against the quicks, he used the crease with aplomb to maintain his characteristic fluency.

Perhaps no stroke was more emblematic of the left-hander's serenity than a sumptuous pull-shot off Chris Jordan late in the afternoon.

As the bustling right-armer attempted to unsettle the Sri Lankan with some hostility, Sangakkara simply stood tall, swivelled and nonchalantly caressed the ball to the boundary between the two men positioned behind square. 

Few players in the game's history could have completed the stroke in such style. 

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images
Kumar Sangakkara's style has proven to be as impressive as his international record.

Cricket's affinity for symbolism and strong narratives was also present throughout the veteran's innings.

At a time when England are walking cautiously into a new era with a renewed XI, Sangakkara and his excellence will soon represent the definitive end for his own nation's current epoch.

At a time when his opponents at Lord's have discarded former pillars of strength in opting for fresh faces, the 36-year-old continues to prove that runs are the only quantity that matter. 

And at a time when cricket's dominant nations are looking to increase their ownership of the game's resources, the left-hander again proved why Test cricket must welcome the diversity of its vast borders. 

That one innings on its own was able to provide such important reminders was a reflection of the brilliance that has defined Sangakkara's career.

Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Kumar Sangakkara leaves the field at Lord's after his stunning century.

Yet perhaps what made the Sri Lankan's sublime century so treasured was what it represented for Sangakkara's time in the game.

It must be remembered that the tiny island nation doesn't enjoy the opportunity to compete for historic Test honours. Unlike England, Australia, India and the West Indies, the Sri Lankans will never enjoy an Ashes contest, a Frank Worrell Trophy campaign or a Border-Gavaskar Trophy tour. 

Regrettably, Sangakkara's nation is unlikely to ever experience the mightiest stages belonging to Test cricket, instead typically used to bulk out the international calendar. 

Which is why the veteran's achievement on Saturday carried added significance. 

Despite having achieved all he could in the game, Sangakkara has always been denied the opportunity to score that hundred that shapes an Ashes series, to claim that catch that changes a five-Test encounter with the world's powerful sides. International tournaments aside, he's rarely enjoyed the game's brightest spotlight.

But still within his reach was a century at Lord's, a chance to engrave his name into the walls of Test cricket's cathedral.

And he did.

A majestic record that was missing one thing had its finishing touch applied.  

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