I was not 100% certain of being fit to play in all three formats: Rangana Herath

I was not 100% certain of being fit to play in all three formats: Rangana Herath

Rangana Herath
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Rangana Herath has been one of the important pillars of Sri Lankan spin bowling attack in the post-Muralitharan era. The left-arm spinner, who retired from limited-overs cricket earlier this month to concentrate more his Test career, stated that he is glad that he chose to become a spinner and not a fast bowler considering the fitness issues he faced during his career. The 38- year-old has had troubled knees which required surgery on a few years ago.

“It was fine for the first few years or so, but with the extra workload of playing international cricket, the pains to both knees started to come back, especially when I am running,” Herath said on Saturday (April 23).

“I have managed to continue playing by taping my knees. I was not 100% certain of being fit to play in all three formats, that’s why I decided to stick to Test cricket, a pace at which I can manage my legs. I am lucky that I didn’t end up as a fast bowler because my career wouldn’t have lasted this long.”

Herath, who is perhaps in the last lap of his career, says he hasn’t set himself any goals to pursue and hopes to go past 300 Test wickets. The veteran is just three short of reaching the milestone which only two Sri Lankans have managed till date – Muthiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas.

“I have not set any goals for myself. Whenever I have played for my country, I have always wanted to see how best I could contribute to win,” he said. “That has been my approach all the time. It would be a big achievement if I can get to 300 Test wickets, but after that, I don’t see any goals that I can pursue.

“There are about ten Tests lined up for this year and I’ve decided that I can manage myself and my knees playing in that format rather than the hustle and bustle of one-day cricket.”

The left-arm spinner made his debut in 1999 but with Muttiah Muralitharan being their frontline spinner, he was dropped midway and took almost ten years to cement his spot.

“When I was dropped from the side, I never gave up hope. I knew I had the skill to play for the national team and kept on performing at the domestic level,” he said. “The national selectors thought that I was good enough and persisted with me for virtually all the matches played by the Sri Lanka A team. That gave me hope that one day I would be considered to play in the senior side.”

The 38-year-old is currently employed with Seylan Bank as their business promotions manager and hasn’t decided on life post-retirement.

“I am still employed with Seylan Bank and have some years to serve with them. I am lucky to have an employer like Seylan Bank who has never questioned my position even on occasions when I had not been part of the national team,” he revealed.

Sri Lanka are already struggling to find quality replacements for Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene and Herath’s eventual retirement would only make the challenge tougher. But the 38-year-old is pleased with there is enough bowling talent available.

“You don’t need one bowler to run through the entire opposition,” he said. “We still have quality fast bowlers and spinners who can take 20 wickets to win a Test match.

“We have plenty of good spinners around, like Dilruwan Perera, Tharindu Kaushal, Sachithra Senanayake and Jeffrey Vandersay, but they need to be given a consistent run in the national team. That is how they will gain the confidence to bowl under pressure and under different conditions and situations and win matches for us. I will certainly want to share my experience and help young spinners and contribute in whichever way I can.”