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Vaas the greatest

His full name is probably the longest name of a player in the history of World Test and One-Day cricket. Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas, is his name. Popularly known as Chaminda Vaas, this charismatic, unassuming gentlemanly cricketer, is regarded as being the best fast bowler to come out of the country - Sri Lanka.

In 2004, Vaas gained recognition for his talent, when he was selected for the World Test and One Day XI at the inaugural ICC awards. He was once again selected for the World Test XI at the 2005.

Chaminda Vaas

An old boy of St. Anthony’s College, Wattala and St Joseph’s College, Maradana, he represented a leading club in Sri Lanka, Colts Cricket Club, and made his debut for the Sri Lanka cricket team, about 17 years back in 1994, against Pakistan in the 3rd Test, played at the picturesque Asgiriya stadium, Kandy the hill capital of Sri Lanka.

Architect of first Test victory abroad

Chaminda Vaas is a left hand batsmen as well as a left arm medium fast bowler. He made a fine impact in his second year of international cricket, as he helped Sri Lanka to their maiden Test match victory, away from home, against New Zealand. Against New Zealand in Napier, this brilliant bowler Chaminda Vaas, in the first innings took 5 for 47, and in the second innings, rewarded 5 for 43 – a match bag of 10 for 93, fantastic indeed. In 2001-2002, Chaminda was in his peek form - unplayable.

He took 26 wickets in a series win against the West Indies. This included a match haul of 14 wickets, a feat only achieved by two fast bowlers in the sub-continent, the other being legendary Imran Khan (Tests - 88, innings - 126, not outs - 25, runs - 3,807, HS - 136, average - 37.69, 6 x 100s, 18 x 50s, 28 catches, balls 19,458, runs 8,258, wickets - 362, average - 21.11, best bowling figure 7 for 52). On March 25, 1992 in Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia, under the able shrewd captaincy of Imran Khan, Pakistan annexed the fifth World Cup 1992.

Leading wicket taker in SA in 2003

At the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003, held in South Africa, Chaminda Vaas, collected 23 wickets in the grassy fast tracks and became the leading wicket taker in the tournament.

Hat-trick against Bangladesh

This great performance, of Chaminda Vaas as a bowler was against Bangladesh. He took 6 for 25 including a hat-trick with the first three deliveries.

He made his maiden Test century on June 26, 2007, playing against Bangladesh, in Colombo, out of a total of 577 for 6 wickets. This was his 97th Test match. In November, 2007, Vaas played his hundredth Test, and that was against England. Incidentally, this was Sanath Jayasuriya’s final Test match for Sri Lanka.

Captures 400 ODI wicket - Yuvraj Singh

Another landmark in Chaminda Vaas’s distinguished career was that in August 2008, in the fourth One Day International in India he captured his 400th wicket, when he held into a catch given by Yuvraj Singh off his own penetrative bowling. Thus, he joined the illustrious ‘400 wicket takers club’ with Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and his team mate Muttiah Muralitharan. The smiling assassin Muralitharan is the other Sri Lankan bowler in international cricket circuit to have taken 400 ODI wickets.

Country player of repute

Chaminda Vaas was born on January 27, 1974, at Mattumagala, in the Gampaha district. Some of the major teams that he played were Colts Cricket Club, Hampshire (2003), Northamptonshire (2010), Middlesex (2007), Worcestershire (2005).

In 2009, he played his last Test against Pakistan in the third Test played at the SSC grounds.

In 1993/1994, at Madhavro Scindia cricket stadium, India, he played his first ODI against India and ended his cherished ODI career, again against India at R Premadasa stadium in the 4th ODI.

Northamptonshire professional Chaminda Vaas on January 11, 2011, capturing 10 wickets enabled Northamptonshire to beat Glamorgan. This was one of his highlights in his career.

1996 World Cup Mark Waugh’s wicket was a turning point

Chaminda Vaas’ bowling in the 1996 World Cup is still remains embedded in my memory as the Sri Lanka’s cricket commentator for Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation.

This great left arm medium pace bowler Chaminda Vaas in 1996 World Cup matches against Kenya (10-0-44-1), England (8-1-29-1), semi final against India (6-1-25-1) and in the final against Australia at the Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan on March 17, 1996 captured the vital wicket of Mark Waugh for 12 runs, caught to a stunning catch by Jayasuriya off Chaminda Vaas’ bowling. It was undoubtedly this vital wicket at the Australian total of 36 was the real break for Sri Lanka’s victory.

Due to this, Sri Lanka were able to restrict the powerful Australian batting line-up to 241 for 7 in their 50 overs. Chaminda Vaas’s bowling figures was 6-1-30-0. Vaas was the only bowler to bowl a maiden over in the Australian innings. The openers Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh were restricted their run-gettiong. This helped spinner Aravinda de Silva – captured 3 wickets for 42 runs.

The biggest disappointment for SL and Vaas

Cricket, is sometimes a game of disappointment. For Chaminda Vaas probably his biggest disappointment was his non-inclusion for the ICC 2011 World Cup. The Indians were overjoyed when they heard the experienced ODI war horses Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas were excluded.

Cricket is a mind game. For example, a bowler of the calibre of Chaminda Vaas who captured Sachin Tendulkar and many Indian wicket on several occasions, would have been psychologically affected once they face a blower like Chaminda Vaas in ICC World Cup 2011. Sometimes if these two experienced players played in the final on April 2, 2011 against India in Mumbai, Sri Lanka would have scored their second World Cup victory, which was not to be.

Tips to be a good paceman

He is a first class left arm swing bowler. He used to open bowling for SL, and his in-dipper is a dangerous ball. He bowls an off-cutter too. Added to all this his reverse swing, paid dividends.

He dropped his speed. Still, he continues a fine length and direction. First bowling requires special preparation. Fitness, with strength, flexibility and weights programmes.

This attention will help you to prevent injuries. The trunk is the most part of the body used by fast bowlers. You must have a strong, flexible trunk. It enables your shoulders, arms, through quicker than you otherwise would and therefore to bowl faster and safer.

There are three different actions. (a) side on, (b) front on and (c) also semi. Fast bowler must have reason co-ordinate in run-up and action. Swing bowlers should pitch the ball fuller.

An inswing yorker was always a wicket taking ball. Late reverse swing yorker is a deadly ball for a batsman. Your run-up should co-ordinate with your delivery.

As a batsman too he was useful. His 3,000 odd runs in Test includes 13 fifties and a century. Another important fact sometime many are unaware is that only eleven (11) bowlers in Test history have 200 wickets have scored more runs than Chaminda Vaas.

This charming, charismatic, god-fearing, unassuming thorough gentlemanly cricketer Chaminda Vaas is the most penetrative and successful new-ball bowler I have seen in my four and half commentating career. It was a pity, he was not selected to play in the 2011 ICC World Cup. Of course, I am not a selector!


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