Rangana Herath: I have a lot of admiration for Ravindra Jadeja
Sri Lanka's left-arm spin great Rangana Herath dips into coaching waters to assist England Lions at MIG Cricket Club, Bandra; expresses his admiration for India's Ravindra Jadeja
One year into his international retirement and Sri Lankan left-arm spinner Rangana Herath is already in demand to coach England Lions. The world's highest left-arm spin wicket-taker (433 in 93 Tests) is in the city for a short coaching stint, organised by Global Cricket School. Taking time out during the lunch break of their practice session, the former Sri Lankan spinner spoke to mid-day on Friday at the MIG Cricket Club in Bandra on his life post retirement, his active interest in his banking career and his admiration for Ravindra Jadeja.
Edited excerpts from the interview.
What attracted you to coaching?
I have retired for almost a year now. I did my Level II and Level III coaching [courses] and I realised that I have to give something back to my country and this lovely game. I thought working with spinners—in Sri Lanka or outside—is a privilege and a good opportunity for me.
Will you be coaching full-time?
Coaching is not the main target, but I want to stay connected with the game. At the same time, I have been working with Sampath Bank in Sri Lanka for almost 20 years now. I can't be a full-time coach because I have to spend time at the bank as well. Hopefully, I can manage both. The Sri Lankan people have a lot of respect [for cricketers]. I have a great relationship with them [customers], bank management and the staff.
Who are the left-arm spinners that excite you?
Keshav Maharaj [of South Africa] and Ravindra Jadeja are doing well as left-arm spinners at the moment. They are important for their teams.
Are teams obsessed with wrist spinners?
It is important to have the [right] combination. Wrist spinners are more in demand because a lot of coaches and team managements think they are a wicket-taking options. Most of the wrist spinners are around in the shorter format game. They might bowl a few bad balls, but they still threaten to take wickets. At the same time, if you have finger spinners with good accuracy, you can have a good combination.
What shall a left-arm spinner do in such a scenario?
When it comes to the longer format, I believe that left-arm spinners have more chances of playing especially in the sub-continent. When you go to countries like Australia or even South Africa for that matter, you cannot expect the conditions to be like in the sub-continent. If a spinner is smart, he can capitalise. Those who are smart have long careers.
What more should Jadeja do to be an automatic choice in the XI?
It depends on the combination. When you are playing in the sub-continent, he might get a chance. But when you are playing outside India, it is not easy to bring that combination [of two spinners]. At some stage, maybe [Ravichandran] Ashwin is playing or Kuldeep Yadav is bowling. It depends on the situation and conditions. If you consider his batting and fielding, he is one of the fittest guys in the team. I have a lot of admiration for Jadeja.
You had to wait for four years to get a chance after your first three Tests...
Till 2009, I was in and out. I was in the Sri Lanka 'A' team and in the national squad. Sometimes I would never get a chance, so it was a bit of a worry. But I always believed in myself. I would always count myself lucky to play for my country at the age of 21 [in 1999]. At that time, I realised, if you can play once, you can obviously play again. My coaches, parents, family, friends and my bank gave me that motivation and support. When you become a successful cricketer, there are a lot of people behind it.
As a person, you need to be honest. That's the number one thing. You need to be a hard worker if you want to achieve your target. The other thing that I have noticed is that some people try to stay in their comfort zone. As a sportsperson if you can challenge yourself and come out of your comfort zone, I am sure you will go an extra yard. You have to be patient as a spinner and as a sportsperson. It will take some time, but you will eventually get there.
Super mentor Hanumant Singh remembered on his death anniversary
Hanumant (right) with England batsman Eoin Morgan and former England captain Graham Gooch (centre) during a World Cricket Academy camp at CCI in 2005
Rangana Herath helping young English cricketers improve their technique on Friday coincided with Hanumant Singh's 13th death anniversary. The departed cricketer was remembered by some members of the cricket fraternity. "Chhotu, as we called Hanumant, was a cricket person through and through. I can't think of a better cricket conversationalist than Chhotu," Bishan Singh Bedi said on Twitter. Meanwhile, Sachin Bajaj, whose camps Hanumant taught at, like the Herath one, recalled: "He [Hanumant] helped many overseas players like Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Graeme Swann and Eoin Morgan at such camps. He always carried a photograph of Sunil Gavaskar to show them how still a batsman's head should be."
Still 'banking' on a job
Rangana Herath is an unlikeliest modern-age cricketer one can encounter as he remains dedicated to his workplace—Sampath Bank—with whom he has been associated with for over two decades now.
Herath, 41, the bank's marketing head, says that he has never neglected his work despite cricket commitments. When asked how does he combine work and cricket, he says, "If you think it is difficult, then you will find it harder to manage things. Whenever I was not with the national team or my club, I would go to my bank and work."
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