Chaminda Vaas is undoubtedly the greatest pacer Sri Lanka has ever produced. His ability to swing the ball both ways and, to generate a late movement – a trait that has foxed many a batsman – has seen him become the second highest wicket-taker for Sri Lanka in both Tests and One-Day Internationals (ODI). Vaas spearheaded the Sri Lankan bowling attack for almost 15 years. A true legend of the game,Vaas took 755 international wickets – 355 in Tests & 400 in One-Day Interationals – in his memorable career.
Vaas, who is currently in India to take part in the final of the Mitsui Shoji T20 League, spoke on different matters ranging from India’s young bowlers, comparison between Kohli and Tendulkar and much more in a interview.
What did you tell the boys?
I’ve seen so much talent here. To be able to play for the Indian team, they need proper guidance, coaching, experience and support. I’m here to motivate them, pass on my experience to them. I told them my story. My parents didn’t have much money, but I worked hard and produced results. Being a fast bowler, you’ve to sacrifice so many things. What I learnt from 20 years of cricket, I would love to pass on to upcoming cricketers. I would love to produce another Vaas, whether he’s from India, Sri Lanka or Pakistan.
Do you think Jasprit Bumrah will come good in Tests?
He’s a good limited overs bowler, but you need experience to play Tests. You can’t judge a bowler in ODIs and T20s. It takes different skills to succeed in Tests. You’ve to survive for five days and it’s hard work. Fast bowling is all about working hard and playing the longer version without injury.
Why could Ishant Sharma not become the pace spearhead India was looking for?
When Ishant started out, I thought he would surpass Javagal Srinath. The amount of cricket he is playing has put him under enormous pressure. He has to adapt to different versions of the game as the lengths are different. He can be a good Test bowler. He has to improve and must motivate himself to have the right attitude towards the game. One day, he’ll be like Srinath.
You bowled a lot to Sachin Tendulkar. Do you find any similarities between him and Virat Kohli?
It’s difficult to compare cricketers from different eras. Sachin is the No. 1 Indian cricketer – he made more than 15,000 runs in Tests. Virat is still getting there. If you look back to those days, Sachin also scored heavily. Virat is batting brilliantly in T20 cricket. A few years ago, you’d think 30 was a good score in T20 cricket, but he’s showing 100s can be scored regularly. He’s a genius -a person who has immense self-belief, courage and brilliance, who is proving that he’s a better player each day.
How would you have bowled to him given a chance?
It’s not easy to bowl to guys like him and Sachin. You couldn’t keep Sachin quiet. You had to bowl in good areas to him, and try and get him out as quickly as possible. In Virat’s case, the way he bats, it’s difficult to find a weakness. He `hides’ his weak areas by being positive in shot-making. You’ve to be lucky to get his wicket early. You’ve to look to bowl dot balls to him and create pressure. When that happens, you may get him. He’s a modern-day great.
How do you rate Mustafizur Rehman?
He has adjusted well in T20 cricket, which is a totally different game. You can’t survive there with just one or two variations. You need to have three-four options to survive as a bowler. He has learnt that at a young age.
Why are Sri Lanka struggling?
There is much more talent in our part of the world than Australia and England, because we’ve a lot of grass roots-level cricket. There, a cricketer develops after he’s 18 or 19. But our cricketers start when they’re probably 11. It’s just that we’re not grooming them properly.