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Rangana Herath retires

A final goodbye and one last apology

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A final goodbye and one last apology
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Rangana Herath bowed out of international cricket in a somewhat unceremonious manner as Sri Lanka’s batting failure denied him a farewell win. The 40-year-old left just the way he had entered and appeared throughout the scene – quite nonchalantly.

Despite being the most successful left-arm bowler with 433 wickets to his name in Tests, Herath did not seem to have earned his fair share of the limelight. Before ending his career, he also carved his name among cricket’s elite by becoming only third bowler to take 100 wickets at a single venue after compatriot Muttiah Muralitharan and England’s James Anderson.

Making his Test debut in 1999, Herath played only two Tests in the first four-and-a-half years of his career as Sri Lanka already had spin wizard Muralitharan at their disposal. Until Muralitharan’s retirement from Test cricket in July 2010, Herath featured in only 22 Tests. He played 71 more Tests in the next nine odd years, giving everything he reserved in the tank to become a regular face in the team.

Being among the all-time top eight wicket-takers in Tests, seven of whom have called time on their careers including Herath himself, the Sri Lankan became the only one to have suffered a defeat in his last match.

Ben Foakes’ century on debut gave England a 139-run lead over Sri Lanka in the first innings before Keaton Jennings registered a ton in the second innings to set a target of 462 runs for the islanders. After scoring 203 runs in the first innings, Sri Lanka totaled 250 in the second, handing the visitors a 203-run victory.

“It's an emotional situation, but all in all everybody has to take a decision at the right time. I'm thankful for all those years that I have played, all the people behind me, especially team-mates, Sri Lanka Cricket, I must thank every single person who's behind me.

“It's been a privilege and honor to play for my country, because in Sri Lanka we have 22 million people, so very few get the opportunity to play for Sri Lanka, so that's a remarkable achievement and honor for any player,” said Herath.

Dinesh Chandimal, the Sri Lanka skipper, regretted not being able to give the one last gift that would make for a perfect swansong for the bowler.

“It's a really hard day for us because we all know how much Rangana has done for the team and Sri Lankan cricket,” said Chandimal in the post-match presentation. “It's a very emotional day. We wish him a very good future. We will have to say sorry to him. We couldn't give him a really good farewell in his last game, so we apologize for that.”

Herath is surely not someone who would sit there expecting an apology from the teammates he has long been sharing the dressing room with. Being the kind of person he is, the middle-aged man, who was juggling a bank job with his cricket career until now, will not lose his sleep over a defeat and might go to his office on Monday after getting a good night’s sleep. 

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