Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath said “it’s been a privilege and an honour to play for my country” after he retired from international cricket.
Herath brought his international career to an end after the 1st Test against England in Galle, which Sri Lanka lost by 211 runs.
Herath finished as the most prolific left-arm spinner in Test history as he took 433 wickets, which places him at eighth on the all-time list of wicket-takers in the longest format.
“It’s been a privilege and an honour to play for my country,” Herath, who was the last active player to make his debut in the 1990s, was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. “In Sri Lanka we have 22 million people and very few get the opportunity play for [the country].
“It is a remarkable achievement so [of course I will miss it]. I am so proud – I have got to know people and the game has given me a lot. I have a lot of respect for the game.
“It is an emotional situation but everybody has to take a decision at the right time. I need to start another life.
“I am thankful for all the years that I have played and those people behind me, especially my team-mates and Sri Lanka cricket. I must thank everyone.”
Herath, who revealed that he is looking to continue playing first-class cricket, hopes that Sri Lanka will bounce back in the second and third Tests, which will be held in Kandy and Colombo respectively.
“As always, losing is not a good result for any team but it is part of the game. Hopefully the guys will come back strongly and play the cricket we used to play in the second and third Test,” he said. “I am 100 per cent confident with the talent we have. If you take the recent past [in Test series wins] against South Africa and Australia we had a winning mind-set. We need to get back to that.”
Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal and former skipper Kumar Sangakkara both heaped praise on Herath, saying the 40-year-old will go down in history as one of the best players the country ever produced.
“We all know what Rangana has done for the team and Sri Lanka cricket – we wish him a really good future,” Chandimal said. “We will have to say sorry to him for not giving him a really good farewell.
“He has done so much for the team off the field and if we have a problem we can go to him. He has offered real good advice – he is a tremendous man and a great human being.”
Sangakkara added: “He is amazing, an absolute legend, I always say he is the greatest role model Sri Lanka has produced. He’s never complained, I don’t think he even had a warning by an umpire or match referee. Not because he is so goodie-goodie but because he kept everything within himself and trusted his ability 100 percent.
“He has had some unfair things happen to him in his career, he was always in Murali’s shadow, but every time he has had an opportunity he has made it count. That’s the measure of the man, quiet but an absolute champion.”