Rangana Herath reflects on his past, present and future | Sunday Observer

Rangana Herath reflects on his past, present and future

8 September, 2019

Ever since Sri Lanka’s unsung spinning hero, Rangana Herath exited the arena, Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) spinning department has been unsettled and scraping through bumpy journeys.

The Sunday Observer sat down with the holder of the highest number of wickets by a left-armer in the longest format, at the P Sara Oval, reflecting in retrospect personally and professionally.

Following are the excerpts:

Q: How is it to watch cricket as a retired play er and not being on the field?

A: (laughter) That’s something interesting. Once I retired, I learnt there is a lot to learn. When you are playing, of course every single day you are learning. But when you are watching from outside, you can see a lot of things. You are not doing the playing part and you can learn everything from outside. When you go inside, that is not very easy to cope up with, the pressure and all. But every day we are learning. More learning after retirement.

Q:How did the spinners fare, in the New Zealand series, overall?

A: Unfortunately, Akila Dananjaya could not make it to the second Test, with the same thing (suspect action) popping up again. But, Lasith (Embuldeniya) bowled well in Galle in patches, even here as well. So, Dilruwan came back. Those are the things; we need to be concerned playing spinners.

We need to play continuously. That’s why I said Akila could not make it to the second Test. But otherwise, Akila had bowled really well with Lasith Embuldeniya. Here, what I noticed is, they (New Zealand) batted really well, against two spinners, especially Tom Latham and BJ Watling.

Q: Between Akila and Lasith, who was effective the most?

A: Depends, because Lasith is a left-arm spinner, Akila is right-arm off-spinner. There is a concern, Lasith is tall, Akila is a bit of an average guy. But, Akila has lots of variations. Lasith has a few. Those are the things.

Q: Between them, who would you like to mentor?

A: I don’t mind, whoever. Lasith Embuldeniya, if I go back to my age of 22, I also made the same kind of mistakes. That’s how we learnt. Those are the things.

Q: What went wrong in the World Cup?

A: Be it any World Cup, we need to prepare well. I think we were the team who had fair chances. We played in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. In that case, we were the team with real preparations. But, when you see the teams there are some changes. Because, you saw that old department; spin, fast-bowling and even batting. There are things, we needed to improve. We are not at a World Cup to improve, we need to get the homework done and go.

Q:How do you see fellow spinners reported for suspicious bowling actions?

A: That, of course, is not a good thing to see. Specially if you talk about Akila. He is being reported regularly. These are the things we need to concentrate on. Those things can happen, but we need to realize Akila Dananjaya or whoever, they have their careers as well. I’m pretty sure Dananjaya has given a good comeback after that series. I’m sure, he can do that. But, I don’t know about the measurements.

Q: Should Sri Lanka have a young team, or depend on ageing players for the next World Cup?

A: We need to have a balanced team. If you’ve only a young team, they also need to learn every single day. But if you have experienced players, the juniors will learn from the seniors.

Q:If you’re the spin bowling coach, what would be your priority?

A: The coach has to boost the players with confidence. You need to concentrate technically and tactically. And, you need to look after them, as you need to give them fair chances. When you give fair or more chances, then they will learn. Even Tharindu Kaushal, he needs to be given more chances. Be it Dananjaya, Kaushal or Lasith, all of them are trying to get in to the side. That is how bowlers will always get in. At the same time, more windows of opportunities need to be given. Then, they will learn everything as to how to bowl in a pressure situation, how they are going to attack and defend. That is how you need to learn. Otherwise, from outside you can learn nothing.

Q:What was your strength and worst weakness?

A: I’ve a strong action, with accuracy (line and length). There is a disadvantage also. I’m not a Murali or even Kaushal. I cannot turn the ball that much. My accuracy gives more confidence to my ability.

Q: After Murali’s retirement there were question marks. But after Rangana made a mark, in the post-Murali era, all questions were answered till you retired. During that period, did you have any fear about getting drafted into the side?

A: No, because, those days I needed to give them the credit, since I played in 1999 and then dropped here and there and played against Pakistan in 2000.

Then, I was out of the side for almost four-years. I returned in 2004. But, in-between, only two-years I was left out of the National and A side. Luckily, from 2002-2009, I was available for the A side. That’s why I need to give the credit to the selectors and Sri Lanka Cricket for that. Because at one stage, they knew after Murali they knew there were a few spinners, including me, who were coming up.

Q: How did Herath fall in to a cricket pitch?

A: (Smiles). I used to play with my brother and cousins. That is not a major thing that was from my home, actually.

Q:What’s next from Herath?

A: I’m involved in a bit of cricket with Sampath Bank. Apart from that, I’m happy to share my knowledge and experience with the younger guys for SLC or somewhere else.