Classy Kumar’s double ton of decorum
You’ve got to have respect for the levels of patience possessed by the typical modern-day international batsman.
Standing in the middle of an unforgiving furnace all day, applying brain-razing concentration for hours on end, and worst of all, copping the verbal diarrhoea of 11 chirpy rivals while a tearaway maniac pelts red projectiles at your skull.
It should’ve sent more of the run-gatherers thoroughly crackers over the years.
Putting up with such torture and resisting the urge to utilise the plank of lumber they wield for something other than crushing the cherry to the fence is a miracle in itself.
While we’ve seen some heated exchanges between opponents over the years, seldom is the humble bat called upon as a makeshift mid-pitch mediator.
The diminutive Javed Miandad was the man who probably flew the closest to the batsman’s breaking point when he tried to swat Dennis Lillee like a pesky blowfly back in the 1980s after some frisky on-field dialogue between the pair.
Steve Waugh may have needed to use his if Richie Richardson hadn’t been able to control Curtly Ambrose in the famous ‘What are you looking at?’ exchange from a Frank Worrell Trophy Test years back.
Those incidents aside, the swordsmen have managed to maintain their placid reputation beautifully in the face of much external pressure from their combatants.
On the weekend just gone, an event occurred which only served to cement the notion that those wearing the pads are extreme in their levels of tolerance and understanding.
However, this example differs from the usual.
This time around, the provocateur came from outside of the usual 11 candidates in the creams.
Silky Sri Lankan stroke maker Kumar Sangakkara is one of the diamonds of world cricket, and on the weekend in the Test match against Pakistan he once again found himself in rarefied air, approaching another double century after elbow-greasing his way to a picturesque 182 not out.
To add a dramatic element to proceedings, the teetering tail began to crumble around him as he edged toward the glory of a ninth Test double, so he hit the gas in the hope he could scrape past the milestone before those supporting him perished.
His mini rapid-fire burst advanced him within touching distance, taking him up to what he thought was 194 not out.
It was a pretty understandable determination to make, considering that was the number displayed next to his name on the scoreboard at the Galle International Stadium.
Then in a glorious moment of stylish batsmanship, he smoked a thumping six off the bowling of Saeed Ajmal, bringing up what he thought was another monument to add to a pool room that is already bulging.
He charged down the wicket and celebrated the moment, hands raised in a mix of delight and relief. It was exactly the reaction you would expect after doing the shovel-work for hours and then capturing the prize in nail-biting circumstances after thinking the opportunity may have passed you by.
But here’s the kicker that would have any normal man looking to unpack his trunk of discontent (or use the bat).
Unfortunately for Sangakkara, the scoreboard attendant’s numerical dexterity deserted him at a shocking time, resulting in him not being up to the most important aspect of his job: keeping the score.
What said 194 was actually 193; meaning Kumar’s long bomb took him to 199. It’s an admirable score, but not a patch on the euphoria of 200.
What happened next capped the calamity beautifully. The situation could only have had its comical properties increased with some clown music over the PA system.
Unable to pinch the solitary run needed from the last ball of the over, Sangakkara relinquished the strike to his jittery lower-order partner, who was naturally dismissed in the next over, leaving him marooned on 199 not out.
Do you think it could get any worse? It was also the birthday of Sangakkara’s father, to whom he was keen to devote a celebratory double-ton.
It’s enough to make you want to head up the stairs and into the scoreboard attendant’s room with the tools to make your feelings known, right?
But not the classy Kumar, who maintained the custom of polite and civil batsmanship by uttering a few cucumber-cool statements post-play to reinforce the fact that these blokes possess galvanised fortitude and polished manners of the highest order.
“I don’t think I can repeat here what I was thinking then.”
“The ideal thing is to shut your eyes, take a deep breath and try and move on. There is nothing really one can do in the circumstances. It’s all part of the game.”
Pure pokerfaced class through gritted teeth and suppressed internal boiling. This bloke could make sitting through a vasectomy look like a bikini pool party.
Then in keeping with the batting brotherhood’s attribute of calmness, he coolly spotted a silver lining.
“But I would still like to remember this day in a positive way. Today is my father’s birthday and making something close to 200 means I won’t have to buy him a gift.”
Kumar’s majestic style, dignity and dollar pinching in the face of a sumo-sized faux pas once again proves that batsmen are the kings of cricketing decorum.