If Kumar Sangakkara is the answer, what is the question? Perhaps ‘What is the real-life version of a video game cricketer with every batting attribute raised to 100?’ It could be ‘Who plays the best-looking cover drives in cricket?’
And, based on his 164 against Yorkshire, ‘Which cricketer should be implored to not retire quite so soon?’
The great man is set to retire at the end of this season, and with this match situation as it is there is a good chance he will not have to bat again, leaving him just four innings to go. Yet the trademark style Sangakkara batted with indicated that another forty would be very much possible for him.
His dismissal – hooking to deep fine leg – came out of nowhere, with Yorkshire to that point seemingly resigned to the idea of him batting against them for the rest of time itself. Sangakkara, along with Ben Foakes, had run the visitors into the ground.
Surrey’s fifth batting point came in the opening over – they needed just two for it – thanks to a Sangakkara flick, before he began treating the morning like he was having a net. He added 79 to his overnight score in just 21 overs, regularly crashing the ball away with ease and elegance.
A couple to third man brought up his 63rd first-class hundred and seventh of the summer – this, just his eighth match – and that was just the beginning of his onslaught. Three sixes came from his knock, all in the same manner: advancing and slapping the bowler straight back over his head.
He moved up the gears like a Ferrari 812 Superfast, racing from 100 to 152 in 53 balls. It was one of those innings where no part of the ground was immune to a shot in its direction; no area on the wicket could be utilised against him for he would simply meet the ball with grace, finessing it to where ever he saw fit.
Shortly before reaching 150 two cover fielders, halfway between short and regulation, came in. First ball, Sangakkara bisected them so perfectly the highlight clip could be used by a maths teacher to demonstrate the subject.
A thunderous applause greeted him as he departed the field with a third century against Yorkshire this season under his belt.
Foakes, with whom he shared Surrey’s largest partnership of the season (258), at times looked even more stylish than his senior partner as he strode to his first Surrey hundred of the summer. Happy early on in the day to simply stand back and observe Sangakkara’s master class, he pushed on just before the partnership was broken.
Straight-driving gloriously to reach his century, and hitting square of the wicket nicely too, Foakes looked the man to guide Surrey beyond 600. But he wafted at one outside off, from Jack Brooks, and edged behind for 110.
Anything they could do, Yorkshire’s openers could do as well – as Shaun Marsh and Tom Kohler-Cadmore proved. Together the pair put on 162, the club’s second highest stand of the season, to wrestle their way back into the match, though there is still plenty of work to be done.
Neither seemed especially troubled by anything Surrey had to offer on this docile slab of a wicket.
Kohler-Cadmore eased to his highest Specsavers County Championship score for the White Rose with 78, driving and pulling sweetly. Freddie van den Bergh, on Championship debut, got him miscuing to backward point where Ryan Patel took a good diving catch.
But Marsh continued on, watchful after the dismissal of his partner but still ending the day 77 unbeaten. That was important, too – number three Alex Lees appeared unsure of himself against van den Bergh and Stuart Meaker.
Earlier, Brooks picked up his first five-wicket-haul of the season, accounting for Ollie Pope first ball after removing Sangakkara and before bowling Sam Curran.
Steven Patterson wrapped up the tail, taking van den Bergh and Meaker lbw in successive balls before having Rikki Clarke caught after a cameo innings of 41, which included taking 20 off a single Tim Bresnan over.