Rangana Herath is the best spinner in the world : Not Yet, definitely!!
If looks were to go by, then Rangana Herath would probably be the least threatening bowler in the cricketing world. He has a very unassuming run up and a very easy action, no sense of mystery or supernatural artistry flows through his craft. Yet, ever since the retirement of Murali from international cricket, Herath has taken over the mantle and has quietly spun his team to some unforgettable victories, the recent case in point being his 14 wicket haul against Pakistan which also included 9 wickets in an innings, the best ever figures for a left arm bowler in an innings in the history of test cricket, and delivering a victory for his team in Mahela Jayawardene’s farewell test match.
However, to call him the best spinner in the world at the moment would be a long shot, especially with the likes of Saeed Ajmal still around. Herath has been a consistent performer for Sri Lanka, considering the fact that he has been part of the set up for a long time and he made his test debut way back in 1999, he has had to really earn his place in the side by biding his time and learning the tricks of the trade from the master Murali himself.
He is yet to prove his worth in the shorter formats of the game where his fielding skills have been found wanting. He has been in and out of the one-day and T20 team as Ajantha Mendis has been a much more potent weapon for the Sri Lankan team. Also, he needs to improve on his overseas track record which is not all that flattering. He is accustomed to bowling in the low and slowly spinning Lankan tracks but he needs to have a lot more tricks and variations up his sleeve in order to thrive in conditions alien to his style of bowling.
Taking into account the fact that age is not on his side, he needs to make the most of the opportunities that are presented to him. In a short span of time he has become an indispensable force for the Lankan team and has made a mark in the world cricket. He is one of the few classical left arm spinners who relies more on his guile and ability to turn the ball rather than firing in to the leg stump in order to avoid being hit for the boundary.
So, although it might be too early and unfair to say that Herath is the best spinner in the world today, but we can definitely concede that he has become the spearhead of the Sri Lankan bowling line up, especially in test cricket after the retirement of Lasith Malinga. And he has been instrumental in single handedly winning the games for his team, especially in the subcontinent conditions. But given the presence of quality spinners like Ajmal, R. Ashwin and Sunil Narine in the world cricket, it would be a far-fetched thought to consider Rangana Herath as the leader of the pack.