“When you play cricket you don’t expect those kinds of success but to reach the milestone is a big achievement,” said Herath on his arrival yesterday.
The veteran spinner who has become Sri Lanka’s match-winner in Test cricket since the retirement of Muthiah Muralitharan eight years ago not only bowled his team to a series clinching win in the second Test at Dhaka but by taking four wickets for 49 runs in the second innings he took his tally of Test wickets to 415, one more than Pakistan’s left-arm fast bowler Wasim Akram to become the most successful left-arm bowler in this format.
“As a left-arm bowler when you reach the higher level those are the things that you can achieve but apart from that the most important thing is winning the game. I am happy with my achievement but much happy that it came with winning the Test and the series,” said Herath.
“I have to mention a few people who have made it possible for me to achieve it especially the coaches, family friends and Sri Lanka Cricket. Without their help I wouldn’t have done it. I thank everyone who has been behind me throughout my career,” he said.
Herath said that Chandika Hathurusingha coming as head coach has certainly lifted the playing standards of the team.
“We have a good set up and especially with Hathu now we have a good environment. The knowledge he has he knows how to share it with the players and get the best out of them. Hathu and the coaching staff have done a lot of things so far. I know Hathu very well for the last 18 years from 1998 and I know how capable he is as a coach,” said Herath.
“Mentally the confidence has gone high in the team and we need to continue with the performances and the mentality. In the current environment we can hopefully do that,” he said.
Herath is not getting any younger by the day he is 39 and is not looking too far ahead in his career which has been restricted to playing Test cricket only.
“As I have always said I don’t have big plans. I always concentrate on what my next series is. At the moment I am only concerned about the West Indies tour,” Herath said. Sri Lanka are due to tour West Indies for a three-Test series in May.
With Herath nearing the end of a remarkable career the series in Bangladesh produced two promising spinners who are expected to take over the mantle once he retires.
One of them is off-spinner Akila Dananjaya who made a dream debut at Dhaka by capturing eight wickets in the match that included five wickets in the second innings.
“Dananjaya was fantastic playing his first Test and taking eight wickets. I can see a big future for him and better performances from him in the future. He is not new for us because he has played in the T20 World Cup and ODI cricket and has been around as an off spinner. He couldn’t get a chance to play Test cricket because of Dilruwan Perera. Finally when he got the chance he showed what he can do,” said Herath.
Of the other spinner Lakshan Sandakan who bowls left-arm chinaman, Herath said, “Sandakan still needs to improve his bowling to get to where he should be. Akila was preferred because he has more control which is what Sandakan needs to improve on.”
Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera, Roshen Silva and Lahiru Gamage who were part of the Test squad were the other Lankan cricketers who returned with Herath yesterday.