‘Greatest role model Sri Lankan cricket ever had’

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Rangana Herath’s former Sri Lanka team-mates and coaches pay tribute to him

“What an incredible lad he is. So calm, so understanding, and he’s always there for everyone. For the youngsters, especially, having an influence like that is very, very good. Rangana Herath is very approachable to anyone. When you come into the international set-up, everything changes – the rewards and everything around you. You have to react positively to that. To help the youngsters with that, Herath has played a big role. On the cricket side, once Murali retired his numbers tell the story. He’s had a great impact, and Sri Lanka are going to miss him dearly. He falls in the bracket of the legends: the Sangakkaras, the Jayawardenes, the Muralitharans.”

Russel Arnold

“When Murali left, everyone thought that Sri Lanka would be a little handicapped. But Rangana actually revelled in being the sole spinner for the country. He never worried himself with what was happening with the board, or anything else. Unlike us, he very quietly went about his work. He did that year after year. He went through some tough times in terms of his career, but whenever he was given an opportunity, he’s just worked at performing and taking wickets. He’s scored some important runs for us as well.

“I actually think he’s the greatest role model that Sri Lanka cricket have ever had – the way he’s played the game and the way he’s entered and formed relationships with players. He’s a guy that I admire a hell of a lot. I’m just sad that he’s retiring, because I think Sri Lanka really need him at the moment. I don’t think he’s overachieved. I think his potential was immense.”

Kumar Sangakkara

“His determination shows in his whole career, to be out of the team when Murali was there, and to only get a chance later. He made sure he kept working on his game all through those years so that he could grab the opportunity when it came. It’s the kind of quality you see from him on the field as well. There are spells that don’t go his way, but he’ll come right back into it, and within a few overs he’s turned things around straightaway. The control to bowl that he has is something amazing. He’s the last guy from our generation who’s going to call it a day, so it’s a bit of an emotional thing for a few of our boys – for Sanga as well. Once Ranga got his opportunity, he showed what a great bowler he was. In the last five years he’s the guy who’s carried Sri Lanka through in Tests. He’s from a small school in Kurunegala, going into a bigger school and then making his way into the very top level, that’s just a great story.”

Mahela Jayawardene

“I was joking in the dressing room and saying he’s become my all-time sporting hero. He’s gone ahead of Roger Federer.”

-Former Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford, after Herath had taken a five-wicket haul despite an injured groin, in 2016

“He’s such a phlegmatic, calm, relaxed guy – there’s nothing excitable about him. He’s Mr. Dependable. Even with the bat he’s got Sri Lanka out of trouble plenty of times. You look at him and you say he’s like a club cricketer, but the bloke’s mental strength is unbelievable. As mentally strong as any player I’ve come across. ”

-Former Sri Lanka coach Paul Farbrace

We’d like to do something for him and show him the respect he deserves because he’s had a fantastic career over 19 years – his longevity is phenomenal. From our point of view the respect is certainly there – he’s been a brilliant competitor. He’s done some special things for Sri Lanka and that should be noticed.

– England captain Joe Root

(Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)

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