Sri Lanka’s veteran left arm spinner Rangana Herath will call time on his illustrious career after the first Test against England in Galle – the same venue where he made his Test debut 19 years back. Herath will enter the Test on 430 wickets and has a chance of climbing the wicket taking charts with Richard Hadlee (431), Stuart Broad (432) and Kapil Dev (434) ahead of him.
He is second on Sri Lanka’s list of leading wicket-takers – behind Muttiah Muralitharan, who has 800 wickets. Among the currently active bowlers, he has the third best tally – behind James Anderson  and Stuart Broad . Herath is already the most successful left-arm spinner in Test cricket.
Sri Lanka Cricket said Herath had a discussion with board Chief Executive Ashley De Silva and the selectors and informed them of his decision to retire after the Test match in Galle. “We respect and support Rangana’s decision even though his retirement will be a big loss for Sri Lanka Cricket,” De Silva said in a brief SLC statement. “We wish to thank him for the invaluable contribution he has made to Sri Lanka Cricket.”
Herath’s career can be split into two periods – during Muralitharan and after Muralitharan. Following the retirement of the legendary right arm spinner, Herath took up the mantle and did so extremely well. After making his debut in 1999, Herath played 22 Tests until July 2010 when Muralitharan retired and picked up only 71 wickets during this period.
Since then, Herath has taken 359 wickets and has been a regular presence by playing 70 of 81 Tests Sri Lanka have played since at an average of 25.98. His no nonsense approach and panache of being an accurate bowler without trying too many different things helped him bowl long spells to frustrate batsmen for hours.
Highlight moments for Herath’s career have been inspiring Sri Lanka to their first-ever Test match victory in South Africa, in December 2011, by picking a match haul of 11 wickets. He continued this form for 12 months to top the bowling charts in 2012 with 60 wickets. Two years later, Herath spun a web around Pakistani batsmen in Colombo by picking nine wickets in the opening innings and five in the second for a combined figures of 14/184.
Despite the success and continuous involvement with the Sri Lankan Test team, the fitness started to take its toll. The 40-year-old missed the third Test against India last year with a bad back and has also had to grapple with knee injuries for a while now.
Herath had said in February that 100 Tests is a target but it was necessary to be realistic about it. “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,” he had said.
The first Test between Sri Lanka and England begins November 6 and a wicket will ensure 100 scalps at the venue for Herath – just like Muralitharan – a fitting way to bid goodbye.