On 29 May 2016, Herath became the third Sri Lankan bowler to take 300 wickets in Test cricket history after Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas. On 8 November 2016, Herath became only the third bowler in history to take five-wicket hauls against all Test-playing nations. He is the oldest player to reach 350 Test wickets.
On 23 October 2016, Herath was announced as captain for Sri Lanka tour to Zimbabwe. Angelo Mathews, the regular captain, was injured. With this he became the oldest Sri Lankan player to lead a Test team for the first time and from any country since Tom Graveney in 1968.
Born on 19 March 1978, in the small village of Waduwawa, Kurunegala, on the southeastern tip of the Northwestern Province as the second of the family. His elder brother is Deepthi Herath. He was also promoted to the opening batting in school times, and acted as a pacer, until his coach told him to start spin bowling due to height problem. Before starting professional career, Hearth was working at Sampath Bank as a clerk, when he met brother of Chandika Hathurusingha.
Herath started his cricket career at his first school Mayurapada Central College, Narammala. Later he moved to Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala. Having made his first class debut for Kurunegala Youth Cricket Club in 1996–97 cricket season, Rangana Herath currently represents Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club in Sri Lankan first class cricket. He represented Moors Sports Club from 1998/99 to 2009/10 in local first class cricket and also played for Surrey during the latter part of the 2009 English cricket season. In April 2010, Herath joined Hampshire, where he played in the first half of the 2010 County Championship.
Herath is married to his longtime partner Senani Herath, and they have two sons.
Herath made his Test debut at Galle International Stadium, Sri Lanka against Australia in 1999. His One Day International debut came five years later in 2004, against Zimbabwe at Harare Sports Club. During the 2016 England series, Herath was ranked as 13th Test match bowler in the world, having hit the heights of second in the list in 2012.
Although Herath made his Test debut back in 1999, he never came to the prominence as a leading spinner until the retirement of Muralitharan. Herath made a successful comeback to Test cricket in 2009 against Pakistan and took over the mantle of Sri Lanka's main spin bowler from Muralitharan. Former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene rated Herath as Sri Lanka's number one bowler after the retirement of Muralitharan.
After playing second role in the team for long time behind the shadow of maestro Muttiah Muralitharan, Herath ascended to prominence against Australia in 1999 with a "mystery" ball. He broke into the national side after an impressive A tour to England. Herath while playing in two test matches in the series, deceived the visiting Australians with a delivery that darted the other way. He took six test wickets against the Australians. Herath made a comeback to the Test side, taking 15 wickets in the 3 match Test series vs. Pakistan played in Sri Lanka, also winning the man-of-the-match award in the first Test. Herath then took 8 wickets in the second Test in the two match Test-series between Sri Lanka and New Zealand in Sri Lanka. This led Sri Lanka to a win, and a series victory.
Herath played only in the test at Galle during the home series against India. Though Sri Lanka won, he only managed to take the wicket of Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh in that match. Herath was recalled for the second test match against the West Indies in November 2010. In that match played at the newly renovated R. Premadasa Stadium, he took three wickets in the first innings. In the second Test of Sri Lanka's tour of South Africa in December 2011, Herath took nine wickets and won the Man of the Match award. Sri Lanka won the match by 208 runs; it was their first Test win in South Africa.
Herath took 12 wickets during the first test match of the 2012 England test series. His match winning performance helped him to secure the "Man of the Match" award in Galle. Rangana Herath was England's latest spin tormentor with 6 for 74 during the first inning and he took another 6 wickets for just 97 runs and confirmed the Sri Lanka's victory against the touring English team.
In the first innings of the second Test against Pakistan, Herath took nine wickets for 127 runs, the best figures for a left-arm bowler in Test cricket. He was man of the match in both Test matches and also man of the series.
During the Sri Lankan cricket team against Pakistan in the UAE in 2013–14, Herath became the first Sri Lankan and 16th overall to be dismissed for a king pair in test history.
In the second innings of the first Test against India in 2015, Herath took seven wickets for 48 runs, where Sri Lanka only had 175 runs behind India's total of 375. Herath was only able to take a single wicket in the first innings and had a fairly poor performance in the first innings. But his strong comeback in the second innings with other new spinner Tharindu Kaushal, India were all out for 112 runs, where Herath took 7 for 48 and Kaushal with 3 for 47. This was his 22nd five-wicket haul in Tests.
In the first match at Galle against West Indies in 2015, Sri Lanka posted a huge total of 484 with the help of two centuries. In the bowling, Herath took his 23rd five-wicket haul in test cricket and the very first against West Indies. He finished with 6/68 runs and West Indies were all out for 251. This gave windies to keep follow-on and they came in to bat for the second innings just on the third day. Just as in the first innings, Herath was all over the Windies, where they all out for 227 runs, giving Sri Lanka a huge win by an innings and 6 runs. Herath took 4/79 in second innings, finished his fifth ten-wicket haul in Test cricket and adjudged man of the match award as well. The second match was a show of bowlers. Both teams do not score more than 250 in each innings, and Herath only took a single wicket in the first innings. West Indies required 245 runs to win the match, but Herath strikes again, picked up 4 wickets and sealed the game for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka won the series 2-0 and Herath was the Player of the Series.
In England tour 2016, Herath took two wickets in the first test at Leeds, with 299 test wickets. However, Sri Lanka lost the match by an innings and 88 runs. In the second match at Chester-Le-Street, Herath took his 300th test wicket by dismissing Steven Finn, caught by himself. He became the third Sri Lankan after Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vass to reach 300 test wickets in history. He also played well with the bat scoring 61 whilst batting with Dinesh Chandimal before being out to James Anderson.
Herath showed his talents in home soil back against Australian in the Warne Murali Series in 2016. In the first test, he took 4 four wickets in first innings and match-winning five-wicket haul in the second innings. Sri Lanka eventually won the match by 106 runs, which is only the second win against Australia in 27 test matches by Sri Lanka. Herath has took 7 fifers in the fourth innings of Tests by 29 innings, which is the most fifers in second innings in least innings, previously held by legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, who took 35 innings to reach the milestone. Bowling figures of 5 for 58 in the match is also the best bowling figures in a Test innings in Pallekele.
During the second Test at Galle, Herath took a hat-trick by dismissing Adam Voges, Peter Nevill, and Mitchell Starc in the Australian first innings. He became the second Sri Lankan after Nuwan Zoysa, and first Sri Lankan spinner to take a Test hat-trick. He is also the second left-arm orthodox bowler ever to take a Test hatrick after Johnny Briggs in 1892. In the process he became the oldest cricketer to take a hat-trick in Test matches.
In the third Test at SSC, Herath took his 25th and 26th five-wicket haul in Test cricket. This is his fourth consecutive Test against Australia in where he has taken four or more wickets in the opponent's first innings. His 25th fifer mark is the highest by a bowler to take fifers since 2009. In this period, no other bowler has taken even 20 such hauls. His ten wicket haul in the match gave the series whitewash against Number 1 ranked Australia for the first time in history. He took 13 wickets in the last test match and 28 wickets in the series. Both these wicket figures are record for a Sri Lankan against Australia.
During the second Test against South Africa in late 2016 at Newlands, Herath surpassed 355 test wickets of Chaminda Vaas by dismissing Kyle Abbott for LBW, becoming the second highest wicket taker for Sri Lanka. During the first match, Herath ended year 2016 as the second highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 57 scalps, only behind Indian Ravichandran Ashwin (72 scalps). He took 5 fifers and 2 tenfers in the year with economy of 2.61. Despite his milestones, Sri Lanka lost all three matches.
After usual captain Angelo Mathews injured during ODI series against Australia, vice captain Dinesh Chandimal was also injured during T20I series of the same tour. With these major players absent, Herath was appointed as the captain of Test team for the Zimbabwe tour. On 29 September 2016, he led the team in a test match, becoming the oldest player to lead a Test team for the first time since Somachandra de Silva in 1983. The match was won by Sri Lanka, where Herath led from the front, took 6 wickets in the match.
On 8 November 2016, Herath took his 27th five wicket haul, becoming the third overall to take five-wicket hauls against all Test-playing nations, after Muttiah Muralitharan and Dale Steyn. He took 13 wickets in the second test match, recording best bowling figures against Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe. He dismissed Carl Mumba by taking 350th wicket, recorded as the oldest player to achieve the feat. Only Muralitharan has taken more 12-wicket hauls than Herath, who has five to Murali's six. Sri Lanka whitewashed Zimbabwe 2-0 and Herath adjudged man of the match for his impressive performance.
Herath was back appointed as the captain of Test team for Bangladesh tour in home soil, after Mathews has not able to recover from the injuries. In the fourth innings of first Test, Herath surpassed 362 test wickets by Daniel Vettori to become the most successful left-arm spinner in Test cricket history. He took 6 wickets at the end to give Sri Lanka a 257 runs win. With three consecutive wins, Herath became the first Sri Lanka captain to achieve this feat. He was only the second left arm spinner to grab 350+ test wickets after Daniel Vettori in test history.
In the second match, Herath reached another milestone, by dismissing Mustafizur Rahman, to record 1,000 first class wickets. He is the second player from Sri Lanka and the 12th from the subcontinent to achieve the feat. Despite his milestones, Sri Lanka lost the match by 4 wickets, which is their first defeat against Bangladesh. The series shared 1-1 finally.
When newly appointed test captain Dinesh Chandimal was dropped from the first test against India, Herath was appointed as the stand-in captain for the match. However, he was only able to take one wicket and conceded 135 runs in the first innings and India recorded 600 runs for the first innings. During the second innings where Sri Lanka had to chase 550 runs, Herath did not came into bat, due to injury caused while fielding. With Asela Gunaratne also quit from the whole tour with fractured thumb, Sri Lanka played the match with 9 players for batting. Sri Lanka finally lost the match by 304 runs, which is recorded as the biggest defeat by Sri Lanka in term of runs in Tests as well.
Herath's best T20I bowling spells came during the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. His first World Twenty20 match was against New Zealand on 31 March 2014. By batting first, Sri Lanka scored only 119 all out, Mahela scored 25 runs as the best batsman. Blackcaps came to the crease as the favorites to win the match, because 120 is not a huge task at all to them as smashers - Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, and Corey Anderson. During the match, Anderson was injured and so New Zealand played with only 10 players in batting. New Zealand started pretty well with Guptill and Kane Williamson. At this time, Malinga decided to go with Herath, who turned the match in nowhere. Herath ball Guptill and he lunges forward to push to mid-on. Sets off for a single straight away but his partner is not at all interested. The bowler is wise to the mistake, rushes across to his right and cuts the ball in its path and sends in a rocket throw and Sangakkara whips the bails off. After this run-out, it wall all Herath. he stumped skipper McCullum, then caught Ross Taylor to lbw. Next, Herath bowled James Neesham in first ball he faced. He then captured Luke Ronchi for lbw, and New Zealand were never in the game. Finally New Zealand all out for just 60 runs, which is the lowest score by a test playing nation in Twenty20 Internationals. Herath finished with 5 wickets for 3 runs, earned him Man-of-the-match. With this win, Sri Lanka moved their fourth consecutive World T20 semi-finals and eventually won the World T20I title as well.
Herath revealed his intentions to retire from ODIs and T20Is after 2016 ICC World Twenty20. Sri Lanka exited from the World T20 in the first round and Herath announced his retirement on 17 April 2016. This was largely due to the fact that, Herath was picked to the recent limited over tournaments game after a game and with the few years to come with his age, he wants to focus more towards Test cricket. Until retirement, Herath played 71 ODIs, took 74 wickets with the average of 31.91. He played 17 T20Is, where took 18 wickets with the best bowling figures of 5 for 3 against New Zealand in 2014 World T20I.
Herath has taken 31 five wicket hauls in Test and single five-wicket haul in T20Is.
World Records are highlighted in bold.With 31 Test fifers, Herath became the 7th of all time in leading five-wicket takers in Test history.
Highest wicket-taker in Tests in 2012
Best T20 Bowling 5/3 (5 wickets for 3 runs) against New Zealand.
Best test bowling by a left-hand bowler (9 for 127) against Pakistan.
Best Left-arm spinner of all time Test cricket history.
CEAT International Bowler of the Year 2015.
Record for the most Fifers taken in the fourth innings of Tests in least innings - Herath has 8 fifers in 30 innings.
Best Bowling figures at Pallekele Cricket Stadium (5 for 58)
Second left-arm orthodox bowler and oldest player to take a hat-trick in Tests.
First Sri Lankan spinner to take a hat-trick in Tests.
Third bowler after Muralitharan and Steyn to take five-wicket hauls against every other Test playing nation.
Second most 12-wicket hauls - Herath has 5 such instances, one behind Muralitharan.
Dialog SLC Test Bowler of the Year 2015.
Third best bowling in a test match as captain (13/152) just after Courtney Walsh and Waqar Younis and has the record for the best test match bowling as spin bowling captain. This is also the best match figures as a captain for Sri Lanka.
Record for the third best bowling in a test innings as captain (8/63), which means this is also the best bowling by a captain in an innings for Sri Lanka.
Second Sri Lankan bowler to claim 1000 First class wickets.
Second Sri Lankan and fifth overall to achieve 30 five-wicket hauls in Tests.
Herath along with Thilina Kandamby set the record for the highest partnership for the 7th wicket in List A matches (203* v South Africa A).
In this table Ct., refers to the Catches.