Soon to turn 40, Rangana Herath the highest left arm wicket-taker in Test cricket is closing in on playing 100 Tests. Having played 89 Tests till date, Herath is still 11 away from completing this milestone.
Sri Lanka will travel to West Indies for a three-Test series in May and then host South Africa and England before touring New Zealand later this year. Herath is expected to complete the milestone in New Zealand.
Only five Sri Lankans have featured in 100 Tests so far and it will be a huge moment for Herath given the fact that he played only 14 Test matches in his first decade as a Test cricketer. Herath made his Test debut in 1999 but until 2009 opportunities were few and rare for him due to the presence of Muttiah Muralitharan. But since Murali retired in 2010, Herath has stamped his authority in Test cricket.
In the recently concluded Test series against Bangladesh, Herath overtook Wasim Akram's tally of 414 wickets and better him by one more. He now stands at 415 Test wickets and it will be interesting to see how many does Herath take by the time he nears 100 Tests.
"I am not looking at that far (100 Tests) to be honest. Having said that, it will be great if I can play 100 Tests, but the thing is when you set targets your commitments become too much. First, let's finish off the West Indies series and then let's take a call," Herath told Cricbuzz.
"I am completely focused on playing Test cricket and contributing to the team. My only worry is that to play in the team, you have got to perform. That's the number one criteria to remain in the side. Then the other important thing is that I have to maintain my fitness," Herath added.
Injuries have been a constant in Herath's career still the left arm spinner has battled his way through to success in various conditions. "I don't know whether you noticed, but I have lost a bit of weight and I do feel the difference. The back is not troubling anymore. I was told to take an injection before going to Bangladesh. I had to miss the third Test against India in Delhi due to back stiffness. We took some MRI scan and it was recommended to take an injection. I took a break from training and when I returned the stiffness had gone. Hopefully, it will not come back," Herath noted.
Regarding nearing 100 Tests Herath said "It is exciting I know that I could feature in 100 Tests by the end of the year, but we will take a look at the workload ahead of every series and then will see what happens. I am very pleased with whatever I have achieved. Let's not look too ahead of ourselves".
Herath also credited Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha for helping the team to turn things around after a disappointing 2017 during which Sri Lankan cricket hit new lows. "I have known him for 20 years now," Herath said about Hathurusingha. "I played with him at Moors SC and Sampath Bank. We go a long way. He was my coach at the 'A' team as well. The best thing about his coaching is the knowledge he has about the game. He reads the game very well and then he is able to share the information he has with us in a simplified manner. He is very good at creating a good team environment and then his planning is so good. It is up to us to execute those plans and when we don't, he gives us other options as well. He is a terrific coach" concluded Herath.