Home > Features > Moments in history >

Chaminda Vaas: Consistent, classy and reliable

Chaminda Vaas: Consistent, classy and reliable

Although his career appeared prolonged towards the end, the fact remains that Chaminda Vaas is Sri Lanka’s greatest fast bowler © Getty Images

Chaminda Vaas, born January 27, 1974, is Sri Lanka’s greatest fast bowler, and the nation’s second highest wicket-taker behind Muttiah Muralitharan. Although he was overshadowed by the latter’s magnificence, he constantly kept delivering and spearheaded the attack forcefully for a considerable amount of time. Karthik Parimal looks back at the career of this classy bowler who swung his way to brilliance.

During an era which saw Sri Lanka, and most of the cricketing world, celebrate the gradual rise of Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas made steady strides as a bowler. He seldom stole the limelight, but opposition batsmen who faced him during the late nineties and early 2000s will vouch for the fact that he was a thorn in the flesh with a new ball in his hand. His ability to swing it both ways and, to generate a late movement – a trait that has foxed many a batsman – has seen him become the second highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka in both Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODI).

At a time when the Sri Lankans were looking to break free from the shackles of the term ‘minnows’, Vaas played an instrumental role. During the Napier Test against New Zealand in the March of 1995, he finished with figures of 45.3-13-90-10, thereby becoming the first Sri Lankan to take ten wickets in a Test, and in the process bowled the Lankans to their first win in an overseas Test. From then to the end of Sri Lanka’s victorious 1996 World Cup campaign, he became the most successful bowler in both Tests and ODIs, ahead of Muralitharan himself.

Five years later in 2001, when the West Indies toured Sri Lanka, Vaas took seven wickets in each innings during the third Test at Colombo to become only the second fast bowler, after Imran Khan, to take 14 wickets in a match in the subcontinent. Even if he hadn’t dished out this astounding performance, he’d have finished second in the list of leading wicket-takers in that series. Moreover, it appeared as though Vaas relished bowling against the West Indies, for his figures provide evidence of that fact. Out of 111 Tests, he has played nine against them and collected 55 wickets at an average of 16.60, inclusive of four five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket haul. His best bowling figures (seven for 71) too have been scripted against the West Indies.

There was a dearth of effective fast bowlers from Sri Lanka before Vaas’s arrival. Despite not having any seamer to look up to for guidance, he paved his own way to the top. With 355 Test and 400 ODI wickets under his belt, Vaas was the first from his region to set a benchmark in fast bowling, and a high one at that. Javagal Srinath once very aptly said, The commonality that you see in India and Sri Lanka is that fast bowlers are few and far between. The wickets we play on could be a major reason for that. The reasons are the same for the two countries. In spite of not having much fast-bowling support he (Vaas) has bowled his heart out.”

There are a few cricketers who’ve made limited use of their immaculate talent, and some who’ve maximised their potential through sheer hard work. There is little surprise that Vaas belongs to the second category. “There were a lot of guys more talented than me. My game was limited but I worked harder. Nothing comes easy to you, you have got to make the most of your talent,” said Vaas to the Hindustan Times.

Chaminda Vaas: Consistent, classy and reliable

Chaminda Vaas was handy with bat in the lower-order too, capable of pinch-hitting or consolidating according to the situation © Getty Images

It’s only fitting then that Vaas was the protagonist during many of Sri Lanka’s noteworthy victories in the past. He steered his side to its first-ever series win over South Africa in the August of 2004, and it was during this tournament that a young Lasith Malinga made his presence felt on the big stage. The latter couldn’t have asked for a better role model than the former. Moreover, it was after this performance that Vaas rightfully earned his place in the World Test and ODI XI at the inaugural ICC Awards.

The other record of Vaas’s that has remained unconquered since the last twelve years is for the best bowling figures in ODI cricket. His eight for 19 against Zimbabwe during the December of 2001 at Colombo remains the best figures by a bowler in the limited-overs format of the game. Also, he is renowned for claiming a hat-trick with the first three balls of the match against Bangladesh in the 2003 World Cup.

He was handy with bat in the lower-order too, capable of pinch-hitting or consolidating according to the situation. There have been umpteen instances of Vaas being promoted in the batting line-up in an attempt to up the ante. However, his technique could sometimes be watertight, and the 2006 tour to England unearthed this facet of his batting. He faced the maximum number of balls in that series (averaging 92), next only to Kumar Sangakkara, and ahead of many an established batsman like Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan, to name a few.

Although his career appeared prolonged towards the end, the fact remains that Chaminda Vaas is Sri Lanka’s greatest fast bowler. It remains to be seen if Malinga can topple his predecessor.
Vaas’ bowling statistics:

Format W Avg S/R BBI 5WI
Tests 355 29.58 66 7-71 14
ODIs 400 27.53 39.4 8-19 4

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)

Caribbean Premier League, 2014

Jul 11, 2014 (23:30 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

Caribbean Premier League, 2014

Jul 12, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

Caribbean Premier League, 2014

Jul 12, 2014 (00:00 IST)   at St George's, Grenada

Caribbean Premier League, 2014

Jul 17, 2014 (01:00 IST)   at North Sound, Antigua

Caribbean Premier League, 2014

Jul 17, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Providence, Guyana

More

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 19, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 61 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 17, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 93 runs

India tour of England 2014

Aug 15, 2014  at London

England won by an innings and 244 runs

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 14, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 105 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 9, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 9 wkts

Photos

Highlights of Mahela Jayawardene’s Test career

Videos

Hughes explains technique behind cut shot

Will Duncan Fletcher exit, or will he hang on and risk getting sacked?

India’s coaching saga: Need stable options leading up to the ICC World Cup 2015

Ravi Shastri’s appointment could be the last straw for Duncan Fletcher

Michael Vaughan and his Twitter misdemeanours

Ravi Shastri will be His Master’s Voice; Joe Dawes and Trevor Penney convenient ‘bakras’

England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014

India women, England women face off in World Cup qualifiers

Hashim Amla to be rested from 3rd ODI against Zimbabwe

BKS Iyengar, Sachin Tendulkar’s instructor and yoga legend, passes away at 95

Imran Khan – Nawaz Sharif meeting announcement turns out to be fake

MS Dhoni’s failure in England series mocked by Amul

India tour of Australia 2014-15: 5 ways India can avoid another overseas embarrassment

MS Dhoni can benefit from borrowing the ‘Sourav Ganguly School of leadership’

Ravi Shastri inspired confidence as player and captain: Will he do it in a coaching capacity?

Bernard Tancred: Best batsman of the first South African side

BCCI appoints Justice Mudgal to probe India’s overseas defeats

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

659 Posts | 6 Fans

India tour of England 2014: Sunil Gavaskar says Indian batsmen did not learn anything

Rani Mukerji turns into a photographer!

India women, England women face off in World Cup qualifiers

Dr Harsh Vardhan promises to put healthcare before politics

MS Dhoni can benefit from borrowing the ‘Sourav Ganguly School of leadership’

Gaza war resumes with deadly strikes, rocket fire

Hansika Motwani brings ALS ice bucket challenge to Kollywood!

178 million phones at security risk in Middle East, Africa: Report

How to be in a new relationship after a bad break-up

Karbonn Titanium S19 selfie smartphone featuring a 5-megapixel front-facing camera and Android KitKat launched for Rs 8,999

NHRC notice to Gujarat govt over poor facilities

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here