Kumar Sangakkara falls just short of record as Surrey and Essex draw

Surrey's Kumar Sangakkara has been superb so far this season. Picture: PA SPORT

Surrey's Kumar Sangakkara has been superb so far this season. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA

Surrey’s Kumar Sangakkara fell 16 runs short of a record sixth consecutive Championship century when he patted the ball anticlimactically back to Essex’s part-time spinner Tom Westley as the sides drew today.

The scene had been set for the Sri Lankan to equal not only the Championship best, but clock up his 100th hundred across all forms of the game.

The crowd at Chelmsford were stunned into silence as the master batsman started the long trudge back to the pavilion before bursting into a heartfelt and sympathetic round of applause.

He now has 853 runs in red-ball cricket this season at an average of just over 106. There had been a doubt at one stage whether Sangakkara would even get the chance to the challenge the record. He was stranded on 79 not out when the umpires took the players off for bad light. They did not return for 75 minutes with light meters having been checked regularly.

When the captains shook hands at 4.51pm, Surrey were 246 runs ahead in their second innings with one wicket still to fall.

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The draw maintained Essex’s one-point advantage over Surrey at the top of the Specsavers County Championship. The two teams meet again at Guildford at the end of next week in what could be one of the season’s pivotal matches.

Surrey stand-in captain Rory Burns said of Sangakkara: “He was unbelievable. He was outstanding in the first innings, when we really needed him at 31 for five. To stand up then shows the measure of the man.

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“We are disappointed he didn’t get six, but everyone else is more disappointed. He’s not the sort of man who plays for those accolades. “The way he played was magnificent, and got us into the game.

“There have been a few great players [I have played with], but Sanga is probably the best. I don’t think I can do him justice with words.”

Essex’s Jamie Porter claimed the fourth five-wicket haul of his career. He said: ““We didn’t want to make it easy for him. Part of me thinks it would have been nice for him to get the sixth [century], but you should never hand them out.

“I think it is credit to us that we made him work for it – and that he didn’t get it.”

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