Rangana Herath is confident he will not be the last of the Sri Lankan greats.
The left-arm spinner, now 40 years old and 10th on the list of all-time Test wicket-takers with 430, will take his bow from international cricket after this week’s series opener against England in Galle.
When he leaves the field for the final team the Test game will lose its last link with the previous millennium – Herath having debuted against Australia in 1999 – and Sri Lanka will have lost arguably their last recognisably world-class performer in the format.
He proved an unexpectedly adept successor when Muttiah Muralitharan retired in 2010, but the loss in recent years of stellar names such as Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan have left Sri Lanka short on elite talent.
Herath, though, holds out hope of a new generation coming up behind.
“Of course there can be more, even if you take this squad and the one-day squad there is a lot of potential and ability,” he said at a farewell press conference.
“If we can give them the right environment and the right mental support you will see great Sri Lankan players in the future as well.
“Ending your career is not an easy decision to take but you need to take a decision at the right time.
“For me, this is high time to stop playing international cricket.”
Herath later choked back tears after giving thanks to those who had helped him in his long and storied career.
“I have given my best to my country, to Sri Lankan cricket and to my team,” he said.
“When you are are leaving the sport that you love of course it is a sad moment.”
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Bairstow had twisted his ankle while playing football in an England practice session during the preceding ODI series with his fitness for the Tests being monitored on a day-to-day basis.
With Bairstow now ruled out of the first Test which gets underway on Tuesday, England will have to decide between Jos Buttler and Ben Foakes for the wicketkeeping option.
“That decision could impact the rest of the team,” an undecided England coach Trevor Bayliss told the BBC.
The tourists had fielded three wicketkeepers in their first red-ball warm up game on the tour. With Bairstow unfit for the second warm-up game, Buttler and Foakes had shared wicketkeeping duties in Colombo.
The opening day of the second warm-up game was ultimately washed out by rain with only one day’s play being completely eventually.
Bayliss believes the lack of warm-up games could hamper his England team going into the three-match series.
“Any Test team around the world would love to have a minimum of two four day games to prepare for the first Test,” Bayliss said.
“The simple fact these days is there’s not enough time. Being physically and mentally fresh is just as important.”
The first Test at Galle will mark the swansong for Sri Lanka veteran spinner Rangana Herath who will hang up his cricketing boots upon completion of the game.
Welcome to Sunday’s live cricket blog!
The Sport360 team is in place bringing you the latest news from the world in what should be an action-packed day. We will bring you all the updates from the first ODI between Australia and South Africa as well as the opening T20 between India and the West Indies.
Later on, Pakistan will be in action in the final T20 against New Zealand at Dubai.
5:15pm – Ian Bell expects great things from “consistent” Rory Burns
The English international believes that “promising” Rory Burns can follow the footsteps of Jonathan Trott and his tremendous domestic numbers. Burns was picked for England’s test series against Sri Lanka after a Surreal county season with Surrey.
Click here to read the full exclusive.
4:35pm – Jonny Bairstow to miss England’s first test match against Sri Lanka due to injury
England’s wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow won’t be able to play any part in England’s first test match against Sri Lanka due to an ankle injury. This opens the door for Jos Buttler and Ben Foakes, with the former touted to be named as Bairstow’s replacement.
Click here for more.
1:35pm – South Africa beat Australia by six wickets in first ODI
South Africa suffered a few minor hiccups before coasting over the finish line with six wickets to spare in the first ODI against Australia. Set a paltry target of 153 for victory, South Africa openers Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks set up a comfortable win for the visitors with a 94-run stand.
1:00pm – Quetta Gladiators signs Sunil Narine and Umar Akmal
Quetta Gladiators have made some big moves ahead of the Pakistan Super League(PSL) player draft by securing the services of West Indies spinner Sunil Narine along with former Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal.
The Gladiators traded pacer Rahat Ali and left-arm spinner Hassan Khan to Lahore Qalandars to secure the services of the duo on Saturday.
Read more on this story here.
11:00am – India’s Ambati Rayudu retires from first-class cricket
India batsman Ambati Rayudu has called time on his first-class cricket career with Hyderabad in order to focus on white-ball cricket.
The 33-year-old communicated his decision to retire from first-class cricket to the Hyderabad Cricket Association on Saturday.
Read more on this breaking story here.
10:20pm – Australia bowled out for 152 in Perth ODI
Australia’s innings in the first ODI against South Africa at Perth has come to an end and it does making happy reading for the hosts. After South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis won the toss and elected to bowl first, Australia were bowled out for just 152 runs in 38.1 overs.
Andil Phehlukwayo was the star with the ball for the Proteas with figures of 3-33. Do not miss any of the action from South Africa’s chase by following our live coverage here.
10:00pm – Virender Sehwag ends Kings XI Punjab association
Sehwag had been employed as the team’s mentor in 2016 after spending two seasons with the Punjab franchise as a player.
Read more on this story here.
8:30pm – Andre Russell ruled out of India T20 series
West Indies have been dealt a significant blow ahead of the T20 series against India with news that all-rounder Andre Russell has been ruled out of the three matches due to an injury.
Russell is not the only loss for the Windies with spinner Ashley Nurse ruled out of the series as well with the injury he picked up in the fourth ODI. Read more on this breaking story here.
8:00pm – Dale Steyn gives South Africa an electric start in Perth ODI
The first ODI between Australia and South Africa is underway at Perth and it is the hosts who have been put in to bat after Faf du Plessis won the toss.
The visitors have made a rollicking start with the ball with pacer Dale Steyn striking twice in the third over of the innings. The Aussies are already in a spot of bother. Can they recover?
Do not miss any of the live action from Perth by following our live ball-by-ball coverage here.