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Cricket Statistics: Kumar Sangakkara Getting Better with Age in Vintage 2014

Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara acknowledges the crowd after scoring a century during the third day of the first test cricket match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Galle, Sri Lanka, Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press
Tim CollinsFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2014

Kumar Sangakkara continued his blistering run of form on Friday, cruising to an unbeaten 102 against Pakistan in Galle to leave Sri Lanka at 252-2 when rain stopped play on Day 3 of the first Test.

After Younis Khan's 177 had steered the visitors away from early trouble and into a strong position, the graceful Sangakkara again proved to be his side's key man, reaching his 10th century against Pakistan in just 20 Tests—the fifth-highest number of triple-figure scores against one opponent in history. 

Remarkably, the esteemed left-hander continues to pile on the runs, despite being in—theoretically, at least—the twilight years of his glittering career. 

Already in 2014, the 36-year-old has struck hundreds against Bangladesh (319 and 105), England (147) and now Pakistan (102 not out), having also reached a pair of fifties during Sri Lanka's recent series against South Africa. 

Indeed, a quick look at Sangakkara's record for the current calendar year leaves one wondering how long the sixth-highest run-scorer in Test history can continue in this manner.

Kumar Sangakkara's Test Record in 2014
ESPN Cricinfo

Perhaps what's most impressive is that the Sri Lankan currently sits as the No. 1 batsman in Test cricket in 2014 for both total runs and batting average, even after difficult series against England and the Proteas. 

And it's not as though Sangakkara has been without challengers: England's Joe Root and Gary Ballance have continued to impress, Angelo Mathews has gone to another level as captain, Kane Williamson has been outstanding for New Zealand, Brendon McCullum struck an unforgettable triple-hundred, Steve Smith's emergence has kept snowballing and Mahela Jayawardene has proved as timeless as his trusty teammate.

But with characteristic elegance, Sangakkara has quietly outperformed them all. 

Leading Test Run-Scorers in 2014
Kumar Sangakkara9121031986.4247
Mahela Jayawardene9915203*70.3834
Angelo Mathews984616076.9025
Kaushal Silva971113944.4315
Gary Ballance766515660.4532
Brendon McCullum562230262.2020
Joe Root6599200*85.5722
Kane Williamson5583161*64.7731
David Warner457514571.8732
AB de Villiers546211646.2012
ESPN Cricinfo

Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

References of Sangakkara being something of a fine wine may, of course, be cliche, but they are nonetheless accurate.

Since making his Test debut 14 years ago in 2000, the left-hander's batting record has grown more and more formidable as the years have passed. 

Although his career average hovers around an imposing 58, the Sri Lankan's statistics since passing the age of 35 are nothing short of extraordinary.

Kumar Sangakkara: Getting Better with Age
22 - 2424171723049.0548
25 - 2943377528757.191014
30 - 3444438021960.001617
ESPN Cricinfo

To put that average of 72.88 since his 35th birthday into perspective, only the incomparable Sir Donald Bradman has ever been better with the bat after reaching the same point on the timeline. 

Superior in that regard to names such as Tendulkar, Kallis, Ponting, Sobers, Lara, Border, Waugh, Gavaskar and Pollock, Sangakkara is continuing to ascend into rarefied air. 

Highest Test Averages with 1000+ Runs After 35 Years of Age
Sir Donald Bradman151903234105.7285
Kumar Sangakkara16189531972.88711
Eddie Paynter13124924369.3844
Shivnarine Chanderpaul352838203*61.69811
Gary Kirsten14123113761.5556
Imran Khan18103713661.0027
Ken Barrington21173114859.6868
Bruce Mitchell101072189*59.5536
Jacques Kallis26216322456.92105
Sir Jack Hobbs33294521156.631012
ESPN Cricinfo

Of course, the veteran has been particularly brutal on Pakistan during his Test career; Misbah-ul-Haq's men likely feeling that Groundhog Day grips their existence when faced with the relentless Sri Lankan.

The minnows of Test cricket—Zimbabwe and Bangladesh—have also copped their fair share from Sangakkara.

Yet, only serving to enhance the 36-year-old's reputation further is that he averages more than 40 against every opponent in the game.

Kumar Sangakkara's Test Record by Opponent
New Zealand10672156*48.0032
South Africa17153428747.9337
West Indies12918157*54.0035
ESPN Cricinfo

The question now facing Sangakkara is: How much heavy lifting can he continue to do for his nation, given that his longtime companion Mahela Jayawardene is preparing to exit the international arena? 

Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

With the former captain set to play his final Test in Colombo next week, the burden shouldered by the left-hander will only increase. 

Most Test Runs as a Partnership
Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar143692024950.512029
Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes148648229847.311626
Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara118641162456.731827
Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer122608125551.531428
Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss132525322940.401421
Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting76476527267.111622
Marvan Atapattu, Sanath Jayasuriya122453333539.41924
Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag87441223352.521125
Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar71417328161.361216
Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman86406537651.451214
ESPN Cricinfo

In Jayawardene's absence, Mathews will need to maintain his newly discovered level, Kaushal Silva's second coming must keep going, Kusal Perera will need to make the next jump and Kithuruwan Vithanage must build on his solid start.

But the bulk of the scoring will still likely have to come from Sangakkara.

Based on the evidence of 2014 and on a record that only seems to become more impressive by the year, that shouldn't be a problem. 


All statistics courtesy of ESPN Cricinfo.

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