Rangana Herath was my best product for all says school coach | Sunday Observer

Rangana Herath was my best product for all says school coach

Rohan Deerasuriya
Rohan Deerasuriya

Cricket coach Rohan Deerasuriya who discovered and successfully groomed Rangana Herath says that the best left arm slow bowler in the world was his best creation.

Herath retired after the first Test against England in Galle on Friday with a haul of 433 wickets and among his well wishers was his former Maliyadeva College coach Deerasuriya who with 45 years of service is one of the longest incumbent mentors.

“My best ever product is Rangana Herath. I was lucky to find him when he was 13 years old. At that time he was playing for Narammala Central College. One gentleman, Tillekaratne, who was also an old boy of Maliyadeva was a staffer at the school and introduced this promising left armer to me.

He was bowling left arm fast at that time. When we enlisted him at Maliyadeva I turned him into a leg spinner at Under-15 level,” recalled Deerasuriya in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

Deerasuriya also recalled that Herath was quick to learn and determined to move ahead at a time Sri Lanka was struggling to find classy spinners.

“I think the turning point in Rangana’s career was in 1995 during a youth tour of Malaysia where Sangakkara, Chintaka Jayasinghe and Indika Konara among others also played,” said Deerasuriya.

On leaving school Herath played for Kurunegala YCC and Kurunegala SC before turning out for Colts, NCC, Moors SC and Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club.

That Herath had the honour of captaining Sri Lanka on a tour of Zimbabwe was no surprise as Deerasuriya had seen in him the leadership qualities.

In times of distress Deerasuriya was the first person that Herath went to for guidance.

“His strength was his commitment and the goodwill he built up with his teammates. Even on tours he used to call me and seek my advice on something that may have worried him and these were the best qualities I saw in him”, said Deerasuriya who also accounted for producing off-spinner Ranjith Madurasinghe and paceman Eric Upashantha who played for Sri Lanka.

Among a host of former Sri Lankan players present at Herath’s farewell match was the batting maestro Kumar Sangakkara who recalled the days when they started together.

“Rangana Herath is a legend who did a superb job for Sri Lanka. His commitment and dedication was unquestionable. He is still a very close friend of mine and both of us were in the same Under 17 team to tour Malaysia in 1997 for the Youth Asia Cup,” said Sangakkara.

Former skipper Mahela Jayawardena another Sri Lankan great at hand to bid farewell to Herath said the retiring bowler was a role model for up and coming players.

“Herath was a bowler who never gave up and he is a lesson for all youngsters to follow,” said Jayawardena.