What’s the story?
Rangana Herath, the evergreen Sri Lankan left-arm spinner, is set to return to the captaincy role after first choice skipper Angelo Mathews was deemed unfit for the two-Test series against Bangladesh. Herath has previously captained Sri Lanka in two Tests.
A statement from Sri Lanka Cricket said: "He (Herath) has taken on the challenge of leading the team through the Test series against the Bangladeshi team."
In case you didn’t know…
Mathews, who has had hamstring issues in the past, suffered a relapse of the same injury, while also sustaining a twisted ankle during the tour of South Africa and will miss both the Tests against Bangladesh.
Herath, who, at 38 years and 224 days, became the second oldest captaincy debutant for Sri Lanka last year, had filled in for Mathews before the tour of Zimbabwe in October, leading the Lankans to a 2-0 whitewash over the tourists.
The heart of the matter
The 38-year old left-arm spinner, who took 19 wickets in his debut series as captain, is one of the most experienced players in the Sri Lankan side, and one of the handful of active players to have made their international debut in the 1990s. Despite competition from the likes of Upul Tharanga and Dinesh Chandimal, the selectors fell back on Herath’s 78-Test experience.
Mathews has had a full plate in the lead up to the Bangladesh, having represented the team in all three formats, apart from the additional burden of captaincy on him. He has suffered multiple leg injuries over the last year, missing two Test series in six months.
Mathews will most likely return for the limited-overs leg of the tournament, with three ODIs and two T20Is, set to begin on 22nd March, giving him ample time for recovery. The first Test begins at P Sara Oval on March 7.
Although the selectors had options in vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga for the skipper’s role, Herath seemed to be the ideal candidate given the wealth of experience that he brings to the table. Also, given that he performed well with the ball in Zimbabwe, the selectors are also assured that captaincy won’t affect his individual performance on the field. Also, now that the veteran is in the twilight of his career, giving the captaincy is a perfect gift for the service he has given to Sri Lankan cricket.