Kumar Sangakkara got in the groove ahead of Sri Lanka’s upcoming series against England by livening up an otherwise dreary day at Hove.
The 36-year-old batsman made his highest ever score on English soil by hitting 159 to ensure there was no dramatic Durham collapse on the final day against Sussex.
It was the perfect preparation for Sangakkara as he acclimatises to English conditions and gave the crowd something to enjoy as the game meandered towards an inevitable draw.
When the captains shook hands at 4.50pm Durham were 451-7 in reply to Sussex’s first innings total of 505-9 declared and even if rain hadn’t wiped out large chunks of the middle two days a draw would still have been the most likely outcome on a docile wicket.
Sangakkara went to the 47th first class century of his illustrious career off 202 balls and then hit Luke Wright and Ashar Zaidi for sixes as he took only another 55 deliveries to reach 150.
The Sri Lanka international was out just before tea for 159 when he was caught on the square leg boundary off the bowling of Steve Magoffin as he attempted to ensure Durham picked up maximum batting points.
Sangakkara’s dismissal proved costly as Durham fell two runs short of reaching 400 from 110 overs to pick up an extra bonus point. It meant Sussex did claim a second bowling point to ensure they picked up 12 points from the game to Durham’s 11.
There was also an entertaining innings from former England all-rounder Paul Collingwood who hit a 78-ball 74 while putting on 144 with Sangakkara for the sixth wicket.
Collingwood eventually holed out off the bowling off Zaidi while Magoffin picked up his second wicket by having Phil Mustard caught miscuing a hook shot for 20.
The day had started promisingly for Sussex when James Anyon had Scott Borthwick caught behind for 84 in only the third over.
Luke Wells also trapped Michael Richardson lbw before lunch for 15 but Sangakkara and Collingwood snuffed out any hope of a dramatic Sussex victory.