Dhaka, Friday   22 March 2019

Rain threat looms over Herath swansong

 Sports Desk :: sports-desk

 Published: 09:04 PM, 5 November 2018   Updated: 09:04 PM, 5 November 2018

File Photo

File Photo

How do you look at the future, yet forlornly look back in time? Ask Sri Lanka and England.

England have had their dose only recently, waving an emotional goodbye to Alastair Cook, their greatest Test batsman and former captain. It was a week that was dominated by nostalgia, and it culminated in a happy fairy tale at the Oval. But it also presented a scary future for Joe Root's side - someone needed to step into those massive shoes, and quick.

Sri Lanka, too, get ready to bid goodbye to their own unassuming superstar. Rangana Herath - Test cricket's last connection with the 20th century - will play his last game at the same place he played his first, way back in 1999.

And while Galle will celebrate the left-armer's fabulous journey, the future will only look more uncertain for the Sri Lankan team that's rapidly losing relevance in world cricket. Their biggest match-winner since Muttiah Muralitharan's retirement will be walking away, and there's no clear successor to replace him.

It could also be goodbye to another. The Galle international stadium, which has become synonymous with Herath, could also witness its last game, with reports that the authorities prefer a newer, swankier stadium that adheres to heritage laws, elsewhere in the city.

Goodbyes aside, it's also the time for hellos. England could introduce Test cricket to four new faces over the course of the series. In the first Test itself, with a potential long-term replacement for Cook the focal point. The rest of England's batting order, forever changing during the India series, will also be followed closely, with Moeen Ali's audition set to continue at number three.

Sri Lanka have no new faces in their line-up, but will rely mainly on their mastery over home conditions to overcome England. More importantly, they will try and tap into the outpouring of emotion over the impending retirement of Herath, and push themselves to give the veteran the perfect good bye. Herath himself will be striving for that, and that should make him doubly dangerous.

There is one element threatening to make the event a total non-event - the weather. Five days of heavy downpour is forecast for the Test. Herath's swansong could be a literal damp squib.

Daily Bangladesh/Sohug