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The Rise of Rangana Herath

Rangana Herath is the fourth left-arm spinner to go past 250 Test wickets. Derek Underwood, Daniel Vettori and Bishan Singh Bedi are the others © AFP
Rangana Herath is the fourth left-arm spinner to go past 250 Test wickets. Derek Underwood, Daniel Vettori and Bishan Singh Bedi are the others © AFP

As Rangana Herath became only the second Sri Lankan bowler to take nine wickets in a Test innings, Abhishek Mukherjee takes a look at the man and his exploits.

They called David Steele “the bank clerk who went to war” because he looked like a bank clerk. Herath Mudiyanselage Rangana Keerthi Bandara Herath, on the other hand, is a bank clerk who went to war — that too after Muttiah Muralitharan, the Commander of the Sri Lankan Bowling, had retired from the sport.

Unlike his debonair counterparts, Herath has seldom looked impressive: he has been impressive — and we all know which matters more. He is certainly not the tallest, and neither is he the fittest; he does not have a mystery ball that every club spinner seems to have these days; he sticks to the basics, tosses the ball up, varies his length, flight, and guile; he has the stamina to bowl long, very long spells; and runs through sides.

Herath became the eighth left-arm bowler and the fourth left-arm spinner to reach the 250-wicket landmark:

Bowler

Type

M

I

B

W

Ave

SR

5WIs

10WMs

W/I

W/M

B/I

Wasim Akram

Pace

104

181

22,627

414

23.62

54.6

25

5

2.29

3.98

125

Daniel Vettori

Spin

112

185

28,670

360

34.42

79.6

20

3

1.95

3.21

155

Chaminda Vaas

Pace

111

194

23,438

355

29.58

66.0

12

2

1.83

3.20

121

Zaheer Khan

Pace

92

165

18,785

311

32.94

60.4

11

1

1.88

3.38

114

Derek Underwood

Spin

86

151

21,862

297

25.83

73.6

17

6

1.97

3.45

145

Bishan Bedi

Spin

67

118

21,364

266

28.71

80.3

14

1

2.25

3.97

181

Mitchell Johnson

Pace

59

113

13,227

264

27.42

50.1

12

3

2.34

4.47

117

Rangana Herath

Spin

57

102

16,339

255

29.40

64.0

20

3

2.50

4.47

160

His sub-30 average and is impressive, while his sub-65 strike rate is outstanding for a spinner (only the seamers on the list have better strike rates). His 2.50 wickets per innings is phenomenal (the most on the list), as is his 4.47 wickets per Test (at par with Mitchell Johnson). He has also bowled more balls per innings than anyone barring Bishan Bedi.

Herath has been especially prolific over the last three years — a period over which he has taken 26 more wickets than the next man (Dale Steyn, no less) on the list. He has excellent numbers to show as well.

Bowler

Type

M

I

B

W

Ave

SR

5WIs

10WMs

W/I

W/M

B/I

Rangana Herath Spin

30

56

10,099

171

25.61

54.6

16

3

3.05

5.70

180

Dale Steyn Pace

29

57

6,460

145

21.50

79.6

8

1

2.54

5.00

113

James Anderson Pace

37

70

8,719

141

28.68

66.0

5

1

2.01

3.81

125

Stuart Broad Pace

34

61

7,386

135

27.71

60.4

8

2

2.21

3.97

121

Saeed Ajmal Spin

24

45

7,869

125

26.85

73.6

7

3

2.78

5.21

175

Over the last three years, Herath also has

 

1. Bowled the most balls (his 10,099 balls is 2,280 balls, or 380 overs more than James Anderson, the next on the list)

 

2. Taken the most five-fors (his 16 is almost double that of nine by Ravichandran Ashwin and Vernon Philander)

 

3. Taken the most ten-fors (along with Saeed Ajmal)

However, there are a few other records that Herath holds — joint-fastest to 250 wickets for a left-arm bowler, for example.

Bowler Type M
Mitchell Johnson Pace

57

Rangana Herath Spin

57

Bishan Bedi Spin

60

Wasim Akram Pace

60

Derek Underwood Spin

69

Likewise for all spinners, he ranks only behind the legends and Danish Kaneria:

Bowler Type M
Muttiah Muralitahran Right-arm off-break

51

Shane Warne Right-arm leg-break

55

Anil Kumble Right-arm leg-break

55

Danish Kaneria Right-arm leg-break

57

Rangana Herath Left-arm orthodox

57

Today, at Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), Herath also registered the best bowling figures by a left-arm bowler in history:

Bowler Type Figures
Rangana Herath Spin 9/127
Johnny Briggs Spin 8/11
Hedley Verity Spin 8/43
Derek Underwood Spin 8/51
Vinoo Mankad Spin 8/52

[Note: The best figures by a left-arm seamer are Mitchell Johnson’s 8/61.]

Herath also became the 16th bowler (on the 18th occasion) to take nine wickets in a Test innings. Unfortunately, he has the worst figures among all Test nine-fors.

Bowler Type Figures
Jim Laker Right-arm off-break

10/53

Anil Kumble Right-arm leg-break

10/74

George Lohmann Right-arm medium-fast

9/28

Jim Laker Right-arm off-break

9/37

Muttiah Muralitharan Right-arm off-break

9/51

Richard Hadlee Right-arm fast

9/52

Abdul Qadir Right-arm leg-break

9/56

Devon Malcolm Right-arm fast

9/57

Muttiah Muralitharan Right-arm off-break

9/65

Jasu Patel Right-arm off-break

9/69

Kapil Dev Right-arm fast-medium

9/83

Sarfraz Nawaz Right-arm fast-medium

9/86

Jack Noreiga Right-arm off-break

9/95

Subhash Gupte Right-arm leg-break

9/102

Syd Barnes Right-arm fast-medium

9/103

Hugh Tayfield Right-arm off-break

9/113

Arthur Mailey Right-arm leg-break

9/121

Rangana Herath Left-arm orthodox

9/127

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(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

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