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Honours Board Legend: Jayawardene

Mahela Jayawardene celebrates his century in 2006
Mahela Jayawardene celebrates his century in 2006

In 2006 Mahela Jayawardene scored a back-to-the wall century to save Sri Lanka from what looked like certain defeat at the Home of Cricket.

Having been forced to follow-on Sri Lanka were staring down the barrel before Jayawardene’s heroic 119 helped save the game.

In a match where England’s bowlers were expecting to make hay of Sri Lanka’s batsman in home friendly conditions, the tourists pulled off one an escape described by Wisden as “one of the finest acts of escapology since Clint Eastwood bust out of Alcatraz.”

England, led by Flintoff - who was deputising for the injured Michael Vaughan - amassed 551/6 declared in their first innings, with centuries from Marcus Trescothick a (106) and Kevin Pietersen (158),  then proceeded to skittle the tourist out for just 192. Jayawardene the only player to offer any real resistance with 61.

Still 359 runs behind at lunch on the Saturday, Sri Lanka managed to bat out 199 overs to save the Test - in which Jayawardene, at his stylish best, played a resolute knock to see off England’s attack of Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Flintoff, Liam Plunkett, Sajid Mahmood, Paul Collingwood and Monty Panesar.

His 119 came from 220 deliveries and up until he was caught behind by Geraint Jones off the bowling of Flintoff, he’d lasted just over six hours at the crease as Sri Lanka made it to 537/9 and bad light set in.

Seven players scored 50 or more, which included a ninth wicket partnership of 105 by Nuwan Kulasekara (64) and Chaminda Vaas (50no).

It completed a miserable weekend for Flintoff and his team, who surely thought they’d take a 1-nil lead in the series. Their catching was poor in the second innings and they let the opposition off the hook on too many occasions, but that should take nothing away from Jayawardene's knock, who himself was put down on 58.

It was the second time he saw his name placed on the Honours Boards, making him the first, and currently only, Sri Lankan to achieve the feat.

2002 - Jayawardene scores 107

The first occasion was in 2002. It was Jayawardene’s Lord’s debut and at the first time of asking registered a century with a first innings knock of 107 in a total of 555/8 declared, which also included a 185 from opener Marvan Atapattu.

However, that total on paper doesn’t do Jayawardene’s knock justice. Despite the deck at Lord’s being described by Wisden as “as flat as Norfolk”, the 24-year-old Sri Lankan batted with maturity beyond his years. At 55/2, he joined Atapattu, following Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara’s early exits, to put on a stand of 206.

The pair batted with finesse to make sure that Sri Lanka didn’t collapse, as was expected by the English media, despite the tourists coming into the match with nine straight Test victories behind them. Jayawardene soldiered on to make 107, having called for a runner after being hit by a delivery from Flintoff on the thigh when on 47.

Like the game four years later, this one also ended in a draw. England saving the game having been asked to follow-on.

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