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The Old Master

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Rangana_Herath_Sri_Lanka_cricketRecently, there have been a number of unimaginable things happening in the cricketing world which have left me stunned. Things I would never dream of happening have happened and left me completely mesmerized, like the form of Kohli in T20s in 2016, or Stuart Broad’s 8-fer against Australia last year at Trent Bridge or David Warner’s imperious form in the latter part of 2015. But from the past 4-5 years, nothing has left me as stunned as watching Rangana Herath.

It has been amazing. So many times he walks in, picks up a five-wicket haul in an innings, goes on to pick up a ten-wicket haul in a match, and quietly goes about his work.

Incredible, tremendous, amazing are words which don’t usually describe the cricket of Rangana Herath. He is possibly not as good as others have been in the past, but he is one phenomenal bloke.

 

He might not be a treat to watch, like the great Shane Warne or the great Muttiah Muralitharan, but he has been more useful to this Sri Lankan team than almost any other player.

Herath’s all-round performances have been great. If you want to watch something entertaining, funny, effective and filled with determination then watch Herath’s all round efforts. They might not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but they are damn effective, yes they are entertaining in their own way. Watch him bat and you will be left awestruck. Without any real technique he will get runs at the end of the innings, frustrating the opposition. He plays quite a few aggressive shots which is simply fascinating to watch.

In the field, he would do anything to stop a ball going through. There are times when the batsmen in opposing team target Herath as the weakest fielder because of his age. They start hitting shots to where he is fielding. Herath might let a few slip past him but he is not beaten all the time. Each time he is beaten, he stands up more determined to stop the next one and field better and he eventually succeeds.

Never giving up, that is the beauty of Herath for me.

Herath isn’t just a vital Test match player for Sri Lanka. In the group stages of the World T20 2014, which Sri Lanka eventually won, in a do or die match against New Zealand Herath made sure that Sri Lanka defended the extremely low total of 120 runs. It seemed impossible at the time but that is what Herath does. He makes the impossible possible. He left the Kiwi players bamboozled and sent them all back to the Pavilion for a paltry score of 60, picking up five wickets and giving away just three runs in 21 deliveries. Those are mind boggling figures, the kind of figures you would see in club cricket games or on family outings. Such is the class of Herath that he did it at the international stage.

 

Herath is one of a kind. Old, clever, masterful, & crafty, he goes quietly about his business but remains one of the legends of cricket. He is not behind anyone in that regard and that is what counts.

There are many more instances of Herath magically turning around a match for Sri Lanka, like the partnership with Angelo Mathews against England in 2014, which helped Sri Lanka seal a Test series win in England; or the recent performances against Pakistan, India, West Indies and Australia. But we are talking about what Herath is instead what Herath has done.

Finishing it off by saying, “Herath is the best left-arm spinner cricket has ever seen”, wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, that is what Herath is, the best left-arm spinner ever. That is his legacy. That is the title he will own after some time, every legendary cricketer gets a title and Herath will get his too in due time. If Sri Lanka is in deep trouble, have a low target to defend in the fourth innings of a Test match, they won’t be worried a bit. Why? Because Herath will be there grab a five-wicket haul and more if needed to make sure his team wins.

 

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I am a cricket maniac. My favorite player is Virat Kohli. I play a bit too. I like to analyse and w...

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