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 were 2/59 in 23 overs.
— Sri Lanka Cricket (@OfficialSLC) 9 November 2018
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, an important statistic is how he performed before Murali’s retirement in July 2010 and the period after it since that is the period when he started to blossom at the international stage. From 1999 to 2010, Herath played 22 Tests but failed to make a mark. But post-Murali’s retirement he played 71 matches and bagged 362 wickets at an average of 26.15. Interestingly, he also picked up nine 10-wicket hauls in this period.
Rangana Herath holds the record with more wickets than any other spinner in the past decade in Test cricket.
Rangana Herath picked up 398 of his 433 Test wickets after turning 30.
Rangana Herath is the second most prolific left-arm spinner of all time.
Herath is also 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, only behind Muralitharan and Shane Warne.
In terms of five-wicket-hauls (Test cricket), Herath is fifth on the list only behind Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, Richard Hadlee, and Anil Kumble.
With 433 wickets in the bag, Herath is the second leading test wicket-taker for Sri Lanka.
In terms of bowling average, he is at number 10 with an impressive average of 28.07.
As far as bowling strike rate is concerned, Herath boasts of 60 which puts him at the fifth spot behind R Ashwin (53.1), Stuart MacGill (54), Muttiah Muralitharan (55) and Shane Warne (57.4).
In Sri Lanka, Herath had a phenomenal record. He has picked 278 wickets in 49 Tests at an average of 23.65 in the island nation.
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).
In his farewell match, Rangana Herath claimed his 100th scalp. Only two other bowlers have achieved 100 wickets at the same ground — Muttiah Muralitharan ( Galle, Kandy and SSC Colombo) and England paceman James Anderson (Lord’s).
It was at home, that Herath picked up the hattrick against Australia to become only the second ever Sri Lankan to bag a Test hat-trick.
With the end of the first Test, Herath will once again 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. Truly he was one of the best ambassador’s of the game. Niyama Gaana Rangayya!