Updated: November 9, 2018 7:38:23 pm
Rangana Herath’s last act came on Day 3 of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle when he bowled his final delivery in Test cricket to Keaton Jennings. In his last Test, Herath could pick up only one wicket but that doesn’t erase the phenomenal numbers he racked up in his illustrious career. As age finally catches up with Islander, Herath ends his career with more wickets than any other slow left-arm spinner in Test cricket, eighth on the all-time list. His figures in his final innings read: 2-59 in 23 overs.
Herath has had an unusual cricketing career. Emerging from the shadows of the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, the 40-year-old has had to juggle between a playing career and a day job (as a banker). It is a sad fact of history that these two Sri Lankan legends have not bowled much in tandem But that has not stopped him from cementing his spot as a modern great. Since his debut in 1999 against Australia at Galle, Herath has never attained the popularity of a superstar and has been one of the most underrated spinners. Maybe it is to do with his simplistic approach to the game- Herath is not someone with an unusual action nor does he have a mystery ball nor does he trouble batsman to an extent where they fear him. He is one who just does his job without too much fuss.
While looking at Herath’s career, one needs to figure out how he performed before Murali’s retirement in July 2010 and the period after it. From 1999 to 2010, Herath played 22 Tests where he performed averagely. But post-Murali’s retirement he played 71 matches and bagged 362 wickets at an average of 26.15 and strike rate of 56.9. All his nine 10-wicket hauls came in this period.
Herath has taken more wickets than any other Test spinner in the past decade.
He is the second most prolific left-arm spinner of all time.
He is the first Sri Lankan to take a Test hat-trick in 17 years.
He is third in the list of most 10-wicket hauls in Test cricket, behind Muralitharan and Shane Warne.
As far as 5-wicket-hauls are concerned, only Muralitharan, Warne, Hadlee and Kumble have more fifers than Herath in the format.
Rangana Herath is the second leading test wicket-taker for Sri Lanka behind Muralitharan
His Bowling Average of 28.07 places him at number 10 amongst all spinners who have played at least 40 Tests and taken a minimum of 100 wickets.
His Bowling Strike Rate of 60 places him at number 5 only after Ashwin (53.1), MacGill (54), Muralitharan (55) and Warne (57.4).
Herath picked, on an average, 2.55 wickets in every innings he bowled. This is better than the likes of Chandrasekar (2.49), Saqlain (2.41), Swann (2.33), Bedi (2.25), Laker (2.24), Harbhajan (2.19) and Benaud (2.13) amongst other spin bowling giants.
Herath had a phenomenal record at home. He has picked 278 wickets in 49 Tests at an average of 23.65 in Sri Lanka.
Only two spinners – Ashwin and Muralitharan- have a better bowling strike rate than Herath (51.3) at home (min. 60 bowling innings and 80 wickets).
It was at home, that Herath picked up the hattrick against Australia to become only the second ever Sri Lankan to bag a Tst hattrick.
Following the conclusion of the first Test, Herath will return to his day job at Sampath Bank where he has worked for 18 years. The responsibility he took for so many years now has to be taken over by the next generation but there will never be one like him for a long time. Truly he was one of the best ambassador’s of the game. Niyama Gaana Rangayya!
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