Rangana Herath has been named Sri Lanka’s Test captain for the upcoming 2-match series in Zimbabwe following regular skipper Angelo Mathews’s calf-injury which ruled him out of the tour. The 38-year old will become the second oldest player to lead Sri Lanka in Tests after Somachandra de Silva as well as the second oldest overall to captain a team in Tests since de Silva led the island nation in 1983.
The veteran left-arm spinner was the logical choice since almost every available member in the squad did not possess enough experience to get the nod. Mathews’s deputy Dinesh Chandimal too was sidelined from the tour as the thumb injury that he had sustained during a domestic match required surgery.
Left-hander Upul Tharanga has been announced as the replacement for Mathews. With the squad containing as many as three uncapped seam bowlers alongside Suranga Lakmal, the tour presents an opportunity for Sri Lanka to test their bench strength and identify possible options to move forward. Herath’s extensive experience could be crucial in helping the new faces adapt to the rigors of international cricket.
Interestingly, he will become only the second bowler to lead his country in Tests after de Silva. Until now, Herath has played 73 Tests and picked up 332 wickets at an average of 28.71 including 26 five-wicket hauls and 6 ten-wicket hauls. The seasoned campaigner had retired from both limited-overs formats in the aftermath of the World T20 in April with the intention of prolonging his Test career.
Showing that age was just a number, Herath continued to make an impact with the red-ball by tearing Australia apart in their famous 3-0 whitewash during July-August. Only five spinners in the game’s history has picked up more Test wickets than him. He is only 24 wickets short of overtaking Chaminda Vaas and becoming the second highest wicket taker for Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, Mathews who had sustained the calf-injury during the ODI series against Australia also remains doubtful for the tri-series involving Zimbabwe and West Indies which follows the Tests. The first of the two Tests at the Harare Sports Club begins on Saturday. The last time that the two sides met in a Test was during May 2004.
Updated Sri Lanka Squad: Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Rangana Herath (c), Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Kasun Madhushanka, Lahiru Kumara, Lahiru Gamage, Suranga Lakmal and Asela Gunaratne