Adios Chaminda Vaas

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chaminda-vaas-retirementA great bowler retired from Test cricket last week, after a fruitful career spanning a decade and a half during which he claimed 355 wickets. He has been playing under the magician Murali’s shadow, but he has had many moments which will be remembered for long. He is Sri Lanka’s finest medium pacer, with unerring control and a cool attitude. He is WPUJC Vaas, Wonderful Plucky Unrelenting and often Jubilant Chaminda Vaas. His retirement marks the beginning of the end of an era during which stalwarts such as Jayasuriya, Murali and Vaas scripted several famous victories on the cricket field.

He was the lesser known half of Sri Lanka’s most successful bowling duo, but often came up with performances that took our breath away. I can’t forget his eight wicket spell in an one-dayer against Zimbabwe, or the hat-trick in the first three balls of a game against Bangladesh. His statistics speak volumes, but he was much better a bowler than they suggest. He was the only bowler apart from the Pakistani Sultans of Swing to threaten batsmen on the dry, flat sub-continental wickets.

He almost single-handedly demolished West Indies in the 2002 home series, taking 26 wickets in the 3-0 rout. His ability to swing the ball on the flattest of tracks, and his indipper has often caught batsmen unawares. His off-cutter is as lethal as his indipper, and has got him many wickets. His efforts with the bat are not as great as with the ball, but he was quite a useful lower order batsman. He even has a Test century to his credit, and shortly he completed a century on Tests, the third player from the emerald isle to do so. His legacy lives on as bowlers like Kulasekara bowl very much like Vaas, relying more on brain than brawn to prise out batsmen.

His batting has been useful at times, and his test average of over 24 is not bad for someone with 355 wickets. Sri Lanka and world cricket will miss him much, and it needs to be seen if the team learns to live without legends. They have been playing without legends at times, and their younger lot have all the making of another world beating team. Time will tell if they can reach the dizzying heights that their earlier teams scaled.

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