SRI Lanka superstar Kumar Sangakkara signed off from his short Durham stay in style as the visitors earned a draw in the LV County Championship clash with Sussex.
Sangakkara, who will now join up with his national team on their tour of England, had made a less then impressive start to his short spell in the North East with a duck and 14 against Yorkshire last week.
But Durham skipper Paul Collingwood was pleased with how the World Cup star helped to earn his side a share of the spoils at Hove yesterday.
Resuming on 30, Sangakkarra spent a total of more than six hours at the crease on the way to a classy 159.
Collingwood said: “We responded really well with the bat (chasing Sussex’s first-innings total of 505-9 declared). Kumar Sangakkara’s knock was outstanding, and it’s been great to have him in the dressing room over the last couple of weeks.
“Scotty Borthwick was also back in the runs, which is another big positive for us.”
Having started the final day on 137-2, Sangakkara, Borthwick – who failed to add to his overnight total of 84, when he edged to Ben Brown off the bowling of James Anyon – and Collingwood (74) all made telling contributions for the visitors.
Collingwood and Sangakkara shared a partnership of 144, and the Durham skipper admitted it had been a pleasure to spend some time in the middle with the Sri Lankan.
He added: “It was good to bat with Kumar. I’ve never done it before, obviously, but we were very relaxed in the middle.
“We were also very patient, but once I got in I was trying to push it on to get try to get over 400 to get the extra batting point (which they missed by two runs), so it was bit disappointing not to get there.”
The game always looked likely to end in draw, after two of the four days were affected by rain.
But Durham had to cope with more than just the elements, with bowlers Graham Onions and Usman Arshad both suffering injuries on day two.
Arshad was able to retake the field, but Onions, last season’s leading wicket-taker, is more of a concern, although Collingwood was trying to stay positive.
He said: “We probably missed an opportunity in the first innings when we had them 115-5, but going two bowlers down really didn’t help us.
“I would have thought that Graham will be struggling to make this weekend’s games (tomorrow’s T20 Blast opener at home to Worcestershire and Sunday’s County Championship trip to Somerset).
“He’s really, really sore, but he’s had some good results from the scan he’s had so that’s a massive positive for him and for Durham.
“For now, we are going to have to play it by ear and see if needs an injection, and try to get him back as quickly as we can, but I wouldn’t have thought he’ll on the trip to Taunton.”
Even without the services of Onions, Collingwood is looking for his men to step things up.
He added: “We are not playing our best cricket, we have to be honest. Chris Rushworth bowled amazingly well, and Graham did well with the new ball before he got injured. But we have played better in the past, so hopefully we can get our standards up to where we were last year, putting teams under pressure, and keeping them down to low totals.”