Soon-to-retire Rangana Herath has been hailed as a ‘genius’ in subcontinent conditions by England assistant coach Paul Farbrace.
A former Sri Lanka coach – he was assistant coach 2007 to 2010 and head coach in 2014 – Farbrace has seen first hand what the left-arm spinner is capable of on a turning pitch.
“In subcontinental conditions, Rangana’s up there with Murali, Kumble and the greats,” said Farbrace. “In these conditions, he knows how to get the most out of them. Where others might have up-and-down days, he stays on exactly the same path the whole time. He deserves the wickets he has got, because he’s absolutely fantastic.”
One of Herath’s primary attributes is his level-headedness, said Farbrace, who has been preparing his England charges for facing the 40-year-old in his final Test.
“He’s such a phlegmatic, calm, relaxed guy: there’s nothing excitable about him. He’s Mr Dependable. Even with the bat he’s got Sri Lanka out of trouble plenty of times. You look at him and you say he’s like a club cricketer, but the bloke’s mental strength is unbelievable. As mentally strong as any player I’ve come across.
“His weapon is his mental strength, coupled with the fact that he’s so accurate. There’s no mystery to him. What you see is what you get. But don’t underestimate him – he’ll be all over you. Even if you think you’re playing him nicely, he is relentless with his lines and lengths. In Sri Lanka, he is a master of exploiting his own conditions.”
“He can turn a game. He looks innocuous, and the people who treat him as innocuous have done so at their own peril. In the subcontinent he’s a genius.”